Verrucae Vulgaris / Verrucas

Warts

What are verrucas?

Verrucas, sometimes called plantar warts are warts that  develop on plantar surfaces - that is, the soles (or bottom) of the feet.  The pressure from normal standing and walking tends to force the warts into the skin, and this can make the warts painful. Like all warts, they are harmless and may go away even without treatment, but in many cases they are too painful to ignore. Verrucas that grow together in a cluster are known as mosaic warts.

What causes verrucas?

Like all warts, verrucas are caused by a virus that invades the skin through tiny cuts or scrapes. It can take some weeks, or even months, for a verruca to appear after you have contracted the infection. This is called the incubation period. Like other viral infections, verrucas are contagious, commonly spread from the surface of floors in public swimming pools, communal showers, or even your shower at home. Epidemics of verrucas sometimes break out among people who share gym or athletic facilities or who engage in group activities where bare feet are the rule, such as yoga and martial arts. Because most people build immunity to the virus with age, verrucas are more common in children than in adults.

What are the symptoms of verrucas?

The symptoms of verrucas include:

  • Small, bumpy growths on the soles of the feet, often with a tiny black dot, or dots, on the surface.
  • Pain in the soles of the feet when standing or walking.

What are the treatments for verrucas?

Deciding how to treat verrucas may depend on your ability to tolerate the pain that the various treatments can inflict. There is no single treatment that works every time. Conventional treatment focuses on removal, while alternative approaches emphasise gradual remission. Whatever you do, do not try to cut off a verruca yourself, because you may injure yourself.

Conventional medicine for verrucas

There are some treatments available over the counter. Treatment of verrucas may involve rubbing off or paring away the dead skin after each treatment. This is best done by a Podiatrist, especially if you have diabeties  or any problems with the circulation to the feet.

Applying corrosive solutions such as salicylic acid to the verrucas to try to eliminate them. Treatment may take several weeks to be effective. Burning (cautery), freezing with liquid nitrogen, and surgical removal are more aggressive options for more severe conditions. Laser therapy is seldom used.

How can I prevent verrucas?

Protect yourself against exposure to the virus that causes verrucas by wearing shower shoes, verruca socks, flip-flops, or rubber swimming shoes whenever you visit a public pool or use a communal shower or changing room. Wash your feet thoroughly with a disinfectant soap after being in an area where the virus can spread.

Other tips:

  • Don't touch someone else's verruca.
  • Don't share towels with someone who has a verruca.
  • Don't share shoes or socks with someone who has a verruca.
  • Don't scratch or pick your verruca as this could make it spread to other parts of your body.

Keep your feet dry and change your socks every day.