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 contagious through direct person-to-person contact.
What causes verrucae?
The HPV virus is thought to thrive in moist, damp environments such as swimming pools, changing room floors and communal shower areas. It is possible to contract verrucae simply by walking across the same floor area as someone with a verruca, especially if you have any small or invisible cuts or abrasions that make it easier for the virus to penetrate.
Who gets them?
Verrucae are most commonly seen in children, teenagers and young adults - largely those who use communal changing rooms. It is possible to develop an immunity against the virus over time, but most people remain susceptible, although some more than others.
How do I know I have them?
The most common appearance is that of a small cauliflower-type growth on the soles of your feet with tiny black dots. If it is painful when you pinch the area (like when you squeeze a spot), you are likely to have a verruca. They can grow to 1cm in diameter and may spread into a cluster of small warts. If you are unsure, seek advice from a podiatrist.
Are they serious?
Verrucae are harmless but can be uncomfortable and painful if they develop on a weight bearing part of the foot. In addition, hard skin (callus) can form over the top of the verruca, increasing the discomfort in this area. There are also some strains of the virus that spread very quickly and can look unsightly.
What are the treatments?
In the first instance, avoid touching or scratching a verruca as it may spread into a cluster of warts. Instead, cover it up with a plaster. Evidence suggests that, in many cases, verrucae will disappear of their own accord, within six months for children but taking 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.
A podiatrist will assess your general well-being and foot health before deciding on a treatment plan. This may include:
Acid-based and silver nitrate treatments, which are stronger than regular ‘over the counter’ (OTC) treatments from your local pharmacy
Cryotherapy, which involves freezing the verruca with liquid nitrogen
Needling, where the entire area of the verruca is pricked with a needle to stimulate the body's immune system.
Verrutop, which denatures the viral protein of the verruca and desiccates the wart tissue, which then falls off the skin, leaving intact skin underneath.
It is important to note that there is no guarantee of successfully treating any verruca. The aim of all verrucae treatments is to stimulate your body’s immune system to recognise the virus and to destroy it. In some cases the virus can resist the treatment and continue to live.
Call us today on 01279 438444 to find out more about verruca treatments or to book an appointment at our well established, friendly Chiropody & Podiatry clinic located in Old Harlow. We are well located and are happy to see patients from any area including Sawbridgeworth, Bishop's Stortford, Epping, Roydon, Nazeing, Broxbourne, North Weald, Loughton, Ongar, Stanstead and beyond.