People are constantly asking me about Verrucas, what it is, how it looks like, what causes it and how it can be treated. Verrucas, also known as plantar warts, are a common type of wart that mostly appear on the soles of feet. They are caused by HPV virus and tend to be more common among children and young adults.
In fact, it is estimated that approximately 10% of children will contact Verrucas while about 20% of teenagers 16 to 18 years will also suffer from the condition. Most adults have a recollection of dealing with Verrucas at one point or another in their childhood – and having to undergo multiple painful treatments, often with little to no success.
Fortunately, Verrucas is generally considered a harmless condition, although their position on the bottom of your feet can cause a lot of discomfort and sometimes pain. This is because the weight of your body presses against them, irritating the wart and aggravating any existing symptoms.
What causes Verrucas on feet?
Like all warts, Verrucas is caused by a virus, HPV, which invades your skin through tiny openings such as cuts and scrapes. The virus invades the epithelium, the topmost layer of the skin, and starts replicating. This leads to formation of papules or plaques on the surface of the skin. The incubation period for Verrucas is usually 6 months to 1 year. This means it may take up to 1 year from the time of contact to the formation of Verrucas.
HPV is highly contagious. Most people contact the virus through direct skin to skin contact. They can also be contacted from inanimate objects, for instance, from sharing towels with someone with Verrucas or from simple things such as walking barefoot. An epidemic of Verrucas often occurs among people who share gyms or swimming pools or those who engage in activities where being bare feet is the rule such as yoga or martial arts.
But because most people develop immunity to the virus with age, Verrucas is most common in children than adults. If you have been in a public area where you suspect you may have been exposed to the virus that causes Verrucas, wash your feet thoroughly with warm water and disinfectant soap.
What are the symptoms of Verrucas?
The most common symptoms of Verrucas include:
- Small, bumpy, round or oval-shaped growths on the soles (bottom) of feet. They are white in colour, often with a black dot in the middle.
- The Verrucas will be rough and flat with an irregular surface and can vary in diameter from 1mm to 1 cm.
- Even though Verrucas aren’t usually painful, they can itch or bleed occasionally when standing or walking.
Some individuals have a higher risk of contacting Verrucas. They include professionals like engineers, office workers and even butchers. People who have low immunity like those with AIDS or those taking medications that suppress their immunity also have a higher risk of getting Verrucas. Diabetics are also at risk of developing Verrucas and have a lot of difficulty preventing re-infection after treatment.
Treatment of Verrucas
As mentioned above, Verrucas are usually benign and can go away on their own without treatment. In children, more than half disappear within 6 months, and another two-thirds disappear within a year. It may take a longer time for Verrucas to disappear in adults. In some cases it may take up to 5 years.
Often, leaving them alone is the best option, especially for kids, because some treatments can be painful, time-consuming and end up causing unwanted side effects.
However, if your Verrucas are painful, unsightly or don’t go away on their own, you may want to have them treated. There are many types of treatment for Verrucas, but none is full-proof and doctors aren’t sure which treatment is the most effective.
It’s common for Verrucas to reoccur after treatment. The most known treatment for Verruca is salicylic acid.
There are several over-the-counter gels and creams for treating Verrucas that you can buy at the local pharmacy. Many of these treatments contain salicylic acid. This is a chemical that works to soften the rough outer layer of the Verrucas. Don’t use it on large portions of your skin because it can cause irritation.
Before using these gels and creams, soften the Verrucas by soaking your feet in water and rubbing the surface with a pumice stone to remove any excess hard skin. Once you have applied the treatment, cover it with plaster. You will need to use the treatment daily for up to three months. Consider consulting your doctor before using these treatments if you are diabetic or prone to ulcers.
Disclaimer: Pedi Reviews does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only. All suggestions on this site should be discussed with your doctor or podiatrist and should not be used as visitor’s sole source of information.