Verrucae and Warts
What is a Verruca?
A verruca is simply a wart that is usually found on the soles of your feet, though they can also appear around the toes. In the early stages, a verruca looks like a small, dark, puncture mark but later turns grey or brown. It may become rough and bumpy with a cauliflower-like appearance and may develop a black spot in the middle, which is caused by bleeding. A verruca can grow to half an inch in diameter and may spread into a cluster of small warts.
What Causes a Verruca?
- Verrucae are caused by the human papiloma virus (HPV). This virus is very contagious, but can only be caught by direct contact. It thrives in warm, moist environments such as swimming pools, changing room floors and bathrooms. So if an infected bare foot walks across the poolside, it may release virus-infected cells onto the floor. If you then walk on the same floor, you can pick the virus up, especially if you have any small or invisible cuts and abrasions that make it even easier for the virus to penetrate. You could also catch the virus from an infected towel.
- They are harmless. However, they can cause a sharp, burning pain if you get one on a weight-bearing area such as the ball or the heel of the foot. Because you are constantly pressing on the area when walking, they can protrude into the skin and become more painful.
- Salicylic Acid – the safest and most effective treatments were those containing salicylic acid. This acid is applied to the wart to disintegrate the viral cells and has a cure rate of 75%. It may need to be applied at weekly intervals over a set period of time.
- Cryotherapy – this involves freezing warts off with liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide gas. This needs to be done every 3 or 4 weeks for a few months before the verruca is fully removed. However, it can lead to soreness and blistering in some people. You can still swim after this treatment, but it’s not advised for sensitive or anxious children.
- Laser surgery – lasers are sometimes used to kill the virus. This is useful for treating portions of large verrucae at a time. Learn more about laser surgery.
- Verrucae Needling – this is an effective procedure in difficult long standing verrucae. This triggers an immune response, the appropriate antibodies are produced and over the subsequent weeks the verruca undergoes a natural deterioration before ultimately disappearing.
- Combination therapy – contact Kensington Podiatry for information about combination therapy.