April 22, 2015: What is a verruca and how can I get rid of it?

What is a verruca and how can I get rid of it?

A verruca is simply a wart that is usually found on the soles of feet, though they can also appear around the toes or anywhere on the foot and lower leg.

Appearance can vary but it may become rough and bumpy with a cauliflower-like appearance and may develop a black spots in the middle, which are blood vessels.

A verruca can grow to half an inch in diameter and may spread into a cluster of small warts.

Verrucae are caused by the human papiloma virus (HPV).

This virus is very contagious and is caught by direct contact.

It thrives in warm, moist environments such as swimming pools, changing room floors and bathrooms.

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Is that a verruca on my foot?

So if an infected bare foot walks across the poolside, it may release virus-infected cells onto the floor which you then walk on, and pick the virus up, especially if you have any small or invisible cuts and abrasions that make it even easier for the virus to penetrate.

You could even catch the virus from an infected towel such as a shower or bath mat.

They are harmless but can cause a sharp, burning pain if you get one on a weight-bearing area such as the ball or the heel of the foot as they get bigger.

Verrucae tend to be common in children, especially teenagers but anyone of any age can catch one.

However, for unknown reasons, some people seem to be more susceptible to the virus, whereas others are immune.

Minimise your chances of catching a verruca by keeping your feet clean and dry, and covering any cuts or scratches.

Avoid walking barefoot on communal floors such as changing rooms and hotel rooms (wear flip-flops) and don’t share towels.

If a verruca does appear, avoid touching or scratching it as it may spread into a cluster of several warts or even infect the finger, instead, cover it up with plaster which in some cases may even cure it.

Do not self-treat if you have diabetes or circulation problems.

Over the counter treatments have limited success but feel free to try.

Because verrucae usually often disappear in time (fought off by your immune system), the general policy in the UK is to only treat them when they are causing pain.

Verrucae generally resolve spontaneously within six months in children, but in adults, they can persist for years.

If yours is causing pain, there are a number of treatment options available through your Podiatrist –

  • Salicylic acid paste application
  • Cryotherapy/cryosurgery – or freezing warts off with liquid nitrogen (-190degreesC) or nitrous oxide gas (-90degreesC) among others
  • (Dry) needling under local anaesthetic
  • Swift microwave
  • Electrosurgery – following local anaesthetic, the verruca is pared down and an electric needle inserted into the middle of the wart for a few seconds – the verruca is then scooped out
  • Excisional surgery – similar to above, but using a scalpel
  • Laser surgery – similar to above but using a laser

In short – it is best to consult a Podiatrist for specific advice and professional treatment.

All of our Podiatrists are HCPC registered and Insured Members of the College of Podiatry and the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.

If you would like more information or and appointment with one of our Podiatrists, call 01628 773588 or e-mail