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Help and advice for managing your verruca

What is a verruca?

Can be also known as plantar wart which is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) affecting the skin. Usually located on the sole of the foot but can occur on any area of the foot.

What do they look like?

They are commonly an area of thickened skin which has a cauliflower appearance with small black dots. They can vary in size of which you can have a single one, multiple or may spread to form a cluster. Usually painful if pinched and can be painful if located on a weight bearing surface.

  • What causes them?

    A strain of the Human papilloma virus (HPV) which is contracted either through close skin to skin contact or indirectly from contaminated objects like towel, bath mat, socks or footwear and from floors of communal areas of swimming pool or gyms.

    The virus enters the skin through any small or invisible cut or abrasions and is more easily caught if skin is wet/moist or even dry/rough.

    More commonly affect children but can affect adults.

    They can be persistent and may take from 6 months to 2 years to clear.

  • How to prevent verrucae spreading?
    • Wash your hands after touching it, try to prevent scratching or picking
    • Change socks daily
    • Do not share footwear, towels and avoid using same bath mat with any other house hold member
    • Do not walk bare footed in public places, either cover the verrucae with a plaster or wear flip-flops when using communal area e.g. at swimming, gym etc.
    • When self- treating and using a file to the verrucae, do not share the file with anyone else, use on any other area of foot and discard after episode of care is complete.
  • What to do if you have verrucae?

    If painless then no treatment is required. The body’s own immune system recognises the virus and will fight the infection.

    Evidence suggests many cases will disappear within 6 months although can take longer of up to 2 years.

  • Self–treatment
    • File the area regularly with an emery board can help to stimulate the body’s own immune response and helps to maintain and prevent the thickened overlying skin.
    • You can consult your local pharmacist who can advise on use of topical gels/ointments/paints and follow the instructions given carefully.
    • No treatment is 100% effective and outcomes vary from person to person.

    If self – treatment has failed and your verrucae are very painful you may require further advice and treatment from a qualified podiatrist.

    Belfast Trust Podiatry do not offer verruca treatment.