Podiatry: Pesky Verruca

04.09.2019 Category: Podiatry Author: George Hill

It’s now coming to the end of summer and many of us have spent plenty of time around pools and on the beach. Which can be wonderful, of course. However, bacteria and viruses can thrive in these locations causing foot infections.

George, our podiatrist talks about one in particular: the pesky verruca.

Verrucae are commonly found on the foot and are relatively harmless. However, there is the possibility they have other more sinister properties. Some can become malignant and/ or grow and spread across the foot causing a host of uncomfortable or potentially dangerous problems.

Verruca or Verrucae are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). There are hundreds of different types of HPV and different strains infect the body differently. Some types infect the skin, causing verrucae. Even if you come into contact with the virus that causes warts, the risk of becoming infected and developing a wart is small.

Common warts and plantar warts are not usually a serious health concern. These viral warts have not been shown to play an aetiological role in wider known high-risk HPV-linked diseases* such as cervical cancer and Bower’s disease. This is due to HPV presenting as different strains. Having one does not mean you have the other.

*For additional information on HPV’s link to cervical cancer and HPV’s link to Bowen’s disease, we recommend Macmillan’s website.

Contrary to what the old wives tale would have you believe, warts are not caught from touching a toad. Viral plantar warts are in-fact contracted via skin to skin contact or surface to skin contact; among other suggested routes. While common warts are usually painless, plantar warts can be painful because they press inward when you stand on your feet. 

In appearance, these lesions are lumps that are generally circular in shape and appear slightly raised and can be callused over with thicker skin. Some will present with small black/deep-red specks, often noted as the capillary heads and others can be clustered into groups. If you have any small areas of skin you are concerned about then it is important to have these reviewed by your Podiatrist immediately.

Verruca Image from nhs.uk
Verruca Image from nhs.uk

For many, a verruca will disappear in a few weeks to months. However, if they do not it is likely you will require treatment to remove them before they grow or spread. Although one small verruca can be pain-free but unsightly, a large cluster can be quite painful to walk on. Adjusting your walk to relieve the pain can lead to further foot complications. So, it is best to take action as soon as possible.

Over the counter treatment options may work for some people. However, stubborn, persistent verruca will require more appropriate specialist treatment and observation. A medical professional should review all lesions. This is very important so to rule out more serious health concerns.

Specialised treatment is often provided with minimal pain with great results. High strength acid paste or cryotherapy using true liquid nitrogen can be the most appropriate methods for nearly all strains of verrucae. Your podiatrist will advise you on the best course of action based on the verruca presentation, your lifestyle and detailed medical history.

We advised you do not begin treatment without consulting a medical practitioner first. Your Podiatrist should be the first port of call when dealing with these pesky verrucae.

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By George Hill | Podiatrist | September 2019