Got a question about verrucas and warts? We may have an answer for you here. Read on to learn more about causes, symptoms and treatment.
What are Verrucas & Warts?
Warts and verrucas can be a nasty annoyance. Appearing as small lumps on the skin of the hands and feet, they vary in appearance and may develop singularly, or in clusters. They usually appear as small hard areas on the skin. The same colour as your skin, the most common type are rough, flat and often wrinkled. If they're on the sole of the foot, they are most commonly white, often with a black dot on the surface. These can be painful because of the pressure put on them by the weight of your body.
What causes Warts & Verrucas?
Infection occurs through contact, especially in popular locations such as swimming pools, communal showers, changing rooms and gyms, or other warm and moist environments.
How do they develop and spread?
Warts and verrucas are an infection on the top layer of the skin, caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. With over 100 variants, the viruses are more likely to cause a wart or verruca when they come into direct contact with skin that is damaged or cut. If you contract a wart or verruca, it means that you must have come into contact with the virus sometime in the past. People can contract warts through direct skin to skin contact, such as shaking hands with someone. They can also be caught from using inanimate objects, for example from using the same towel as someone who has warts or something as simple as using the same doorknob (1).
What do Warts and Verruca’s look like?
The common wart is round or oval-shaped, firm and raised, often with a rough, irregular surface, and can vary in size, from 1mm to 1cm in diameter. They are not usually painful, although they can occasionally itch or bleed. You may develop one, or several common warts at once (2). Verrucas are small, bumpy growths on the soles of the feet3. They are white, often with a black dot (blood vessel) on its surface. Verrucas will be flat, rather than raised (4).
How can you prevent Warts and Verrucas?
Most people will develop a wart or verruca at some point in their life - but there are steps you can take to keep yourself from warts and to prevent them spreading to others if you do have them (5). Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly is a major step. Try to keep your skin healthy and moisturised, and try not to bite your fingernails or cuticles. Also, remember to use clean, fresh towels in a public location such as a gym, and wear gloves when using shared gym equipment if you have a wart on your hand to prevent it from spreading. It is also recommended to keep your feet dry and change your socks every day, as this could otherwise give the HPV the opportunity to breed. Also, do not touch, scratch or pick your (or someone else’s) wart or verruca, as this could cause it to spread to other parts of the body. If you have walked in an area where you think you may have been exposed to HPV, wash your feet thoroughly (6).
How to get rid of Warts
Most warts can simply be left alone to disappear on their own. Alternatively, there are various home wart removal products. It is important to note that both leaving the warts be and products you can use at home do require a lot of patience. These products do not kill HPV but help remove the wart or verruca.
Take a look at some treatment options below:
- Salicylic Acid - Dissolves the substance that causes skin cells to stick together, which in turn removes the wart. This method can take weeks to work.
- Cryotherapy - at the doctors, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze away the verruca or wart and forming a blister after application.
- Over the counter options such as Scholl Freeze Verruca & Wart Remover use a mixture of dimethyl ether and propellant to achieve a freezing effect. It’s a fast and effective treatment and it can also be done from the comfort of your own home. The verruca or wart will usually peel off gradually within 10 – 14 days.
If the wart persists even after home treatment and treatment at your GP’s office, you should discuss other treatment options with your doctor.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. USE ONLY AS DIRECTED. See your doctor if symptoms persist.