What is it, and how did I catch it?

A Verruca is a wart that affects the base of the feet or the toes. If is a viral infection that affects the outer layer of the skin of the foot. The colour is often similar to your skin colour however it has little black dots inside it.

They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These viruses are opportunistic, meaning that a small break in the skin, such as a cut or abrasio would be required for you to catch the virus, which is normally caught while walking barefoot in communal areas such as swimming pool changing rooms. They are contagious, however you will not necessarily pass them on to family members, as they would need to have had a small break in the skin in order for the virus to enter your system and take root. Some people have immunity towards verrucas, having had them during childhood and formed antibodies towards them to prevent them from re-infecting.

 You may have them in more than one area of your foot, and they can become painful causing pain on weight bearing.

What treatment options are available?

A third to two thirds of all verrucas resolve by themselves, however it can take 2 or more years to resolve. Verrucas are also very common in childhood.

Treatment is only indicated if it is causing symptoms, or if the patient particularly feels they would like them removed.

Home treatments: Over the counter treatments, contain Salicylic acid, which when applied causes skin layers to die which can then be peeled off. These types of treatments can be helpful, and in 10-15% cases will resolve the issue.

Verruca Needling:

Verruca Needling involved puncturing the verruca with a small needle, that causes it to bleed slightly, at the same time stimulating the immune system to start fighting the virus. Puncturing the verruca makes the body aware of the virus, kickstarting antibody production.

The treatment is performed under local anaesthetic and so is usually painless. Patients recover very quickly hardly having any post treatment discomfort.

The benefit of verruca needling is that the procedure itself is painless, and the problem resolves quickly – compared to other treatments available that cause pain, or multiple visits to solve the problem. Usually 1-2 treatments allows for complete resolution of the verrucas. 

Cryotherapy:

Cryotherapy involves using liquid nitrogen to ‘freeze’ the verrucas, and effectively destroy them. If is a very successful form of treatment for verrucas however it can be painful. The treatment can cause a pinching sensation or a sting when applied and for a few seconds later when the verruca ‘thaws’. The treatment can take a few sessions, with the procedure needing to be repeating every 2-3 weeks for a few months until resolved. Following treatment, the patient may experience some temporary redness or swelling around the area treated.