Warts & Verruca - Professional Advice

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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. A Verruca is a very common condition and there is really nothing to be ashamed or concerned about. Many treatments available today are painless unlike the treatments available some years ago. I remember as a small child back in the late 70's having what seemed and felt like a hot soldering iron prodded into my verruca. Thankfully those days are over.

What causes them?

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.

Is it serious?

Verruca 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. When you have verruca on a non-weight-bearing surface (such as on the top of the foot or on the toes), they protrude above skin level, tend to be fleshier and cause less pain.

Who gets them?

Then tend to be common in children, especially teenagers. However, for unknown reasons, some people seem to be more susceptible to the virus, whereas others are immune.

What can I do to avoid them?

Minimise your chances of catching a verruca by keeping your feet clean and dry, and covering up any cuts or scratches. Avoid walking barefoot in communal showers or changing rooms (wear flip-flops) and don’t share towels. Though you should wear verruca socks when swimming to avoid passing on the virus, they can also be worn as a preventive measure. If a verruca does appear, avoid touching or scratching it as it may spread into a cluster of several warts. Instead, cover it up with plaster. Do not self-treat if you have diabetes or circulation problems as some topical solutions and creams can cause serious side effects.


The trouble is that everyone reacts differently to a particular treatment and what doesn't help is that there are over 40 variations of the HPV virus. The duration that you have had the verruca, general size and spread of the infection will also affect your recovery time. A great deal of my patients have had great success with Salactol which is a salicyclic acid based topical solution. However, this type of acidic solution is not suitable for diabetics or those suffering from peripheral circulatory disorders. A recent article in the Journal of Podiatric Medicine mentioned that organic marigold tincture showed impressive results and freezing treatment (cryotherapy) has also shown to be effective. However the question remains; which one is best?

You may wish to start with an over-the-counter product such as Salactol, Wartner or Bazuka. The most important factor you must consider is if you have a medical condition or allergy which will react badly with your chosen treatment and cause further problems. A Foot Health Professional, Chiropodist, Podiatrist or local Chemist can advise further about this. Reading the instructions thoroughly and following them exactly may sound like common sense..... but there are people who have made their condition worse by not doing so. If the instructions state that you must apply a particular solution twice daily then make sure you do just this. Stick to the treatment and don't give up. Results may not show until a fortnight later, depending on the type of treatment you undertake.......be patient!! If all else fails do not be tempted to follow 'old wives tales' or as one fellow did in Doncaster..... blow off your finger with a shotgun!!

So remember, be patient, seek professional help if the verruca becomes a persistent bugger and don't listen to your mate down the pub who just happens to own a shotgun.

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