A verruca is a type of wart and is caused by a common viral infection. Verrucas (or ‘verrucae’) most commonly occur on the feet.
Verrucae are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The virus causes skin cells in the affected area to produce excess keratin (a skin protein), resulting in a hard bump. They are usually found on the feet and are sometimes referred to as plantar warts.
Just like a wart, when the skin has become infected with the HPV virus, it can cause whitish circular skin growths to appear. Verrucae are not usually painful unless there are many of them on one part of the foot, which could make walking uncomfortable.
WHAT DO VERRUCAE LOOK LIKE?
- Firm to the touch and quite flat
- Roundish in shape
- Of varied size (between 1mm and 1cm)
- May have a black dot or a number of black dots in the middle (these are blocked blood vessels)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are verrucae contagious?
Yes, verrucae are contagious and can easily be spread in areas where people often have bare feet, such as at public swimming pools.
How do you catch verrucae?
Verrucae are easily contracted through direct contact from a verruca to healthy skin. It is also possible to develop a verruca through contact with objects that have been touched by the infected skin, such as towels, shoes and socks. As verrucae are contagious, the best prevention is to treat them as soon as possible to avoid them spreading.
Do verrucas go away by themselves?
Verrucas are harmless and will go away on their own eventually, but the process can take months or even years for some people.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR VERRUCAE
Duct tape: cover the verruca with duct tape (cut a piece about the same size as the verruca) and leave it on for six days. Then remove the tape, soak the verruca in water and exfoliate with a pumice stone. Leave the tape off overnight and repeat the process until the verruca is gone.
Essential oils: essential oils such as tea tree, oregano, lemon, thyme, eucalyptus, lavender and cedarwood, are sometimes used as a natural remedy for verrucae. Apply the oil directly onto the affected area using a cotton bud, up to three times a day.
OVER-THE-COUNTER TREATMENTS FOR VERRUCAE
Pharmacies sell a number of over-the-counter treatments for verrucae. These include:
Salicylic acid-based products: These work by dissolving a layer of skin, softening the verruca so that it can be exfoliated off with an emery board or pumice stone.
Dimethyl ether propane-based cold sprays: These freeze the verruca, causing it to die and drop off. These types of at-home sprays are not as powerful as professional freezing treatments which use liquid nitrogen.
As over-the-counter methods of removal may take many treatments to be effective, they can be costly and time-consuming.
A specialised laser heats up the verruca’s blood vessels causing them to collapse and stop the blood supply. This starves the verruca of nutrients so it naturally falls off after a few weeks.
The verruca is sliced away from the skin using a surgical scalpel. This procedure can be done under local anaesthetic and will require a small stitch. This treatment offers immediate results.
Cryotherapy involves using liquid nitrogen to freeze off the verruca, causing it to die and naturally fall off.