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Verruca/e - Plantar Warts

Verruca Verrucae (plural)

Types of verruca (Plantar warts)

There are many different types of wart. There are differences in how they look and where they’re normally found on your body. We list some of the most common types affecting the skin on your hands, feet and other parts of your body below. 

Common wart

These are firm, raised growths with a rough surface – they might look like a very small cauliflower. They’re normally greyish-white or light brown, and usually a few millimetres across. This type of wart is most commonly found on your hands, fingers or knees.

Verruca (plantar wart)

Verrucas are warts on the soles of your feet. They may have tiny black dots in the centre – these are blood clots that have formed in tiny blood vessels. They may be painful, especially when you put weight on them. Sometimes, if you have clusters of verrucas, they can fuse together. These are called mosaic warts.

Plane wart (flat wart)

Plane warts are round, smooth and slightly raised, with a flat top. They can be slightly brown, greyish-yellow or skin-coloured. They’re most common on your face and the backs of your hands. You will often have more than one at a time.

Filiform wart

These have a finger-like appearance, sometimes with a stalk. They’re most commonly found on your face or neck.


Causes of warts and verrucas

Warts and verrucas are caused by infection of your skin with the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can spread from person to person by direct skin contact. But the risk of them spreading is usually fairly low. They’re more likely to spread if you damage the top layer of the wart, as this exposes the virus more.

They can also spread indirectly, if you touch something, like a floor or surface that’s been contaminated with HPV. But this is less common. You’re more likely to get infected this way if your skin is damaged or wet, so infection is often linked to swimming pools and communal showers. You can also spread the infection from one part of your body to another, if you scratch or touch a wart or verruca.

You’re more likely to develop warts and verrucas if you have a weakened immune system. This might be because you have a medical condition or are taking medicines that suppress your immune system.

Symptoms of warts and verrucas

You might not like how your warts look, especially if they’re on your hands or face. But apart from their appearance, warts and verrucas don’t usually cause any symptoms. Verrucas can become uncomfortable or painful when you put weight on them. They may also bleed. Common warts around your nails can be painful too.

Self-help for warts and verrucas

Most warts and verrucas go away by themselves, so it’s often best just to leave them alone, especially in children. But if your wart or verruca is bothering you, there are some things you can try at home to help get rid of it. It’s important to be aware that these don’t always work.

Duct tape

Some people believe that placing duct tape over a wart or verruca helps to get rid of it. There’s no clear explanation as to how this might work. It might be that the tape cuts off the oxygen supply to the wart or verruca. Or, the tape may irritate the skin, encouraging the body’s immune system to fight off the virus.

There’s not enough evidence to support using this technique. But it shouldn’t do any harm, so you may want to give it a try. If you do decide to try it, follow these steps.

  • Cover your wart or verruca with duct tape for six days. If it falls off, just replace it with a new piece.

  • On the seventh day, remove the tape, soak the wart in water and rub with an emery board or pumice stone.

  • Keep the wart uncovered overnight and re-apply fresh duct tape the next day.

  • Continue this cycle for up to two months, until the wart disappears.

Over-the-counter wart and verruca treatments

There are treatments available for warts and verrucas that you can buy from a pharmacy or shop. You apply these yourself at home. They don’t always work. They can also be time-consuming, painful and cause side-effects. But if your wart or verruca is bothering you, you may want to consider trying them. See our, Treatment section for more information. You can ask a pharmacist if you need any advice.

When to seek help for warts and verrucas

You don’t usually need to see your GP about warts or verrucas. Warts and verrucas are usually harmless and go away by themselves without treatment. In children, about two-thirds disappear within two years. Some disappear much quicker than this – within a few months. It may take up to five to 10 years for warts and verrucas to clear up in adults.

There are some circumstances when you should see your GP, though. Always see your GP if you have a new growth on your skin and you’re not sure what it is, especially if it’s growing rapidly. Your doctor will usually be able to tell if it’s a wart just by looking at it and examining it.

You should also see your GP if:

  • the wart or verruca is painful or bleeding

  • you have a wart on your face

  • you have lowered immunity – this can make it harder to get rid of the wart without treatment

  • you have lots of warts covering a large area


Treatment of warts and verrucas

Some wart and verruca treatments you can buy over the counter from a pharmacy or shop. You apply these yourself at home. Other wart removal treatments are carried out by a GP or specialist doctor.

Wart and verruca creams and gels

There are many creams, gels and medicated plasters for treating warts and verrucas. You can buy these over the counter at a pharmacy. If you see a GP about a wart or verruca, they will usually suggest this first too.

Many of these treatments contain an ingredient called salicylic acid. This is a chemical that helps to break down the skin on your wart or verruca. This triggers your immune system to clear the virus. It may provide some help in getting rid of warts or verrucas. If you decide to try a salicylic acid preparation, the following tips may help.

  • Don’t use salicylic acid preparations on your face or large areas of skin. This is because it can cause irritation and scarring.

  • Check with your pharmacist or doctor before using it if you have diabetes and are prone to ulcers or have nerve damage.

  • Before applying the treatment, soften the wart by soaking it in water and rubbing it with an emery board or pumice stone to remove any excess hard skin.

  • Try to get as little as possible of the treatment on the surrounding area because it can cause irritation to healthy skin. Protect the skin around the wart with petroleum jelly or soft paraffin. Avoid getting the treatment on broken skin.

  • Once the treatment has dried, it may help to cover the wart with a plaster or simple dressing.

  • You may need to use the treatment daily for up to three months. If your wart is becoming very sore though, stop the treatment for a few days and then restart.

Video: Verruca

Video: Verruca

Video: Verruca

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