Verrucae are plantar warts that commonly occur on the soles of the feet or around the toe area. They are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is highly contagious through direct person to person contact. There are various forms of HPV which all relate to various parts of the human body.
The most common appearance is that of a small cauliflower type growth on the soles of your feet with tiny black dots. If when you pinch the area (like when you squeeze a spot) it is painful, you are likely to have a verruca. They can grow to half an inch in diameter and may spread into a cluster of small warts. If you are unsure, seek advice from your local pharmacist or visit a podiatrist. In the first instance, avoid touching or scratching it as it may spread into a cluster of warts. Instead, cover it up with a plaster and this may cure it. In many cases, evidence suggests that verrucae will disappear of their own accord within six months for children but longer for adults (up to two years). This is because the body’s immune system recognises the presence of the virus and fights the infection naturally but it can take many months for this to happen. If it is painless, no treatment may be required as some treatments can be painful especially for children and can cause side-effects.
For painful and/or unsightly verrucae or ones which are spreading, you can self-treat using ointments and gels from your local pharmacist following the instructions carefully. Evidence suggests the most effective ones contain salicylic acid which when applied to the wart, helps to disintegrate the viral cells. Sometimes, merely by rubbing away the dry skin over a verrucae and applying a plaster helps to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight the infection. However, if your verruca becomes unusually painful or the surrounding skin area goes red, stop treatment immediately and see a podiatrist. This is because if the healthy tissue around a verruca is damaged, you could hamper further treatment.
Treatments provided by a podiatrist involve an assessment of your general well-being and foot health before deciding on a treatment plan. These may include:
Acid based treatments which are stronger than regular ‘over the counter’ (OTC) treatments from your local pharmacy
Cryotherapy which involves freezing the verruca.
Electrosurgery which requires a local anaesthetic to be given
Excisional surgery which is similar to the above
Laser surgery, particularly for larger areas of verrucae