Dermatology, Podiatry

Verruca

Introduction to Verruca

Verruca is the name given to a wart found on the sole of your foot. They usually clear up without treatment but it can take up to 2 years before the virus leaves your system.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is a Verruca?

Verruca is the name given to a wart found on the sole of your foot. They usually clear up without treatment but it can take up to 2 years before the virus leaves your system. Warts usually clear quicker in younger children. In people with a weakened immune system or in adults, it is harder for warts to clear up and so treatment is usually given. The virus is infective and can spread by indirect and direct contact. People should avoid touching the floor of swimming pools and changing rooms as this is a common place for infection to occur. Precautions can be taken by wearing special waterproof plasters over your verruca and wearing flip flops in changing rooms. Spread of infection is more common among children than adults. If you have a wart on your face, the GP will refer you to a specialist.

What causes a Verruca?

Warts are caused by strains of the human papilloma virus. The virus infects skin and moist membranes of the body such as the mouth and genitalia. The virus is spread by close contact with skin or contaminated objects such as towels or changing room floors. The virus is present in the wart and so can be spread by scratching the wart and someone touching the wart.

What are the symptoms of a Verruca?

A verruca is a wart on the base of your foot, often white with a black dot in the centre. They can occasionally be painful, especially if they are on the weight bearing part of the foot or bleed.

How is a Verruca treated?

Most warts will clear without treatment in those who do not have a weakened immune system. Warts also take longer to clear up in older children and adults. If the wart is becoming painful or causing distress or embarrassment, there are treatment options. Most over the counter verruca creams or gels contain salicylic acid as the active ingredient. The treatment can also damage healthy skin so it is important to protect the skin around the wart with petroleum jelly. This type of treatment should not be used on your face and you should consult your GP if you have a condition such as diabetes of peripheral arterial disease and suffer from poor circulation.

Cryotherapy is when liquid nitrogen is applied to your wart to freeze it for a few seconds and destroy the affected skin cells. The wart will become a blister, then a scab which will fall of 7-10 days later. This can be painful and larger warts might require more than one session before they clear up. Liquid nitrogen can be applied directly onto the wart. In small children or if the wart is near the eye, it is usually applied using a stick with cotton wool on the tip. This is also the preferred treatment for warts on the face. Side effects include painful blistering of the wart, change in the colour of the skin and a change in the shape or structure of nails if it is used to treat warts developing around nails.

Duct tape can be used as a form of treatment. The tape is placed onto the wart for 6 days after which the wart should be soaked in water and scrubbed with a pumice stone. The wart should be left open over night and in the morning place a fresh piece of tape over it. This should be repeated for up to two months. This is a less effective form of treatment but there are also fewer side effects.

Chemicals including formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde and silver nitrate can be used are a treatment option to kill affected skin cells but side effects include skin staining (glutaraldehdye) or burns to the surrounding skin (silver nitrate).

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