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 theskin, 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?

Verrucas, like all warts, 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 caught 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.


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A verruca close up

Using at-home cures

Verrucae gels

The at-home chemical treatments are DuoFilm or Bazuka. These contain salicylic acid – which works by disrupting viral cell function – and lactic acid, which breaks down the hard skin over the infection. They can take months to work, during which time the verruca may go of its own accord. The strength of acid used is only up to 24 per cent, and in a clinic we use strengths of up to 70 per cent – which are more likely to work. Before carrying out any treatment, remove the top layer of hard skin using a foot file.

Home cryotherapy kits

Home cryotherapy kits are available from the chemist – where you apply liquid nitrogen to freeze them off. Cryotherapy undoubtedly works but it needs to be done in a clinical environment .The over the counter cryotherapy kits are not cold enough to freeze and kill the virus that causes the wart. Cryotherapy in a clinical environment achieves significantly better results.

Medical Cryotherapy

In our clinic we use Cryopen.
The Cryopen is an advanced cryotherapy innovation that is safe fast and effective and a new solution for removal of warts.Procedures typically last seconds so you can be in and out of the clinic quickly. The cryopen emits a fine jet of nitrous oxide under high pressure,which allows us to work with millimetre precision.This destroys the tissue by freezing the intercellular fluid,forming ice shards and crystals which rupture the membrane,thereby destroying the cell.That means there ill be no collateral damage to healthy tissue.

Liquid Nitrogen cryotherapy

This is another form of cryotherapy using a special hand held applcator to spray a very cold jet of liquid nitrogen up to minus 70 degrees to the verruca. This can only be carried out in a medical clinic with storage facilities. The clinic will use liquid nitrogen for more severe resistant verrucae.

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Chemical treatments

Warts can also be treated using chemical treatments available on prescription. The treatments contain chemicals such as silver nitrate. 
These chemicals are applied to the warts to kill affected skin cells. Potential side effects include the skin being stained brown (with glutaraldehyde) and burns to the surrounding skin (with silver nitrate).

Swimming advice

If you or your child has a wart or verruca, going swimming is fine as long as you take steps to prevent the spread of infection.
You can put a waterproof plaster over the wart or verruca. Special rubber verruca socks are also available from pharmacies.
Wearing pool slippers or flip-flops around swimming pools and in communal changing areas will also reduce the risk of getting verrucas or passing them on to others.

For further information about treating verrucae please contact the clinic on 0845 603 6150 for a FREE consultation.