Verrucas – Prevention and Treatment

Verrucas and warts can be painless or painful, can be easily treated with over-the-counter remedies, or resist treatment altogether! But what are they, how do you get them in the first place and what are the treatments available?

Lets cover the ‘what’ first…

Verrucas and warts are common viral skin infections. Essentially, a verruca is a type of wart that occurs on the sole of the foot. ‘Pedal warts’ is a term used to describe warts that occur on other surfaces of the foot, for example between the toes.

How do you ‘catch’ a Verruca?

Verrucas and pedal warts come about if you are exposed to one of several strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is perhaps most commonly spread in wet or damp communal places where people walk around barefoot. These can include the areas around swimming pools, locker rooms, communal showers, and bathrooms.

For this reason, we recommend that people who have a pedal wart or verruca cover the affected area when using such areas to avoid spreading the virus to others. It’s hard to completely avoid coming into contact with HPV if you spend a lot of time in damp places. We would advise taking precautions such as wearing flip-flops.

What does a Verruca look like?

Many pedal warts and verrucas are easy to recognise by sight, although it may take an expert eye to distinguish some verrucas from other lesions, particularly corns.

Verrucas may have a flattened, rough, or ‘cauliflower’ appearance, sometimes presenting with tiny black dots from damaged small blood vessels within the lesion.

Apart from their appearance and occasional discomfort when walking, verrucas aren’t usually painful but sometimes are extremely so, especially when they are on a pressure point on your foot.

Treatment of Verrucas

The good news is, even though they don’t look very pleasant, verrucas can be successfully treated. Verrucas and pedal warts will often resolve by themselves without treatment once the immune system recognises the infection. This can take anything from several weeks to several years as it depends on a number of factors, including the:

  • strength of the host immune system,
  • type of HPV virus involved,
  • location of the verruca or wart.

Always wash your hands after you have touched the affected area. You may want to keep the verruca covered with a plaster.

Self-Administered Treatment

Many verrucas will go away by themselves if left alone. However, if they are painful or causing distress in some way (teenager children are often very conscious of how they look and may feel distressed or embarrassed), then treatment may be advisable if the person’s health allows it.

Typical self-administered treatments include over-the-counter salicylic or lactic acid preparations, over-the-counter “freezing” devices (cryotherapy), and the duct tape method. These may be effective in some cases but for many more, they aren’t.

Podiatrist Treatments

A podiatrist with prescription-only medicine rights is qualified to administer prescription strength preparations, such as high concentration salicylic acid or high concentration silver nitrate. Other treatments include cryotherapy, sharp debridement (using a sterile scalpel to make them bleed), electrolysis, dry needling, and treatments with microwave radiation.

Verruca Treatment at Amber Health

Our podiatry and chiropody team here at Baldock are able to diagnose and treat verrucas and warts. If you would like to set up a consultation with one of our therapists, please get in touch on 01462 490141. We can arrange an appointment for you.


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