Verruca / Warts

Introduction to Verrucae

Verrucae are common skin lesions found on the plantar (bottom) surface of the foot. They are also known as warts. They can vary in size from the head of a pin to a 2p piece. The verrucae can also vary in appearance; and can be a single (verruca) or in a cluster. These are known as Mosaic verrucae. They are a viral infection of the foot, and be quite contagious, spreading easily within a moist environment such as a swimming pool, showers or bathroom.

Their appearance:

Their appearance can be similar to that of a corn, but there are huge differences between the two. The verrucae can be circular in shape, and have a broken, disorganised outer border. They can have a rough or smooth surface. The rough appearance sometimes resembles a "cauliflower" effect in the skin. The skin lines on the skin will be interrupted. Verrucae will often appear to have black dots within their mass, which are due to tiny blood vessels which have been squeezed and burst by the growing verrucae cells in the lesion. Other verrucae can appear clear and look just like a circular area slightly paler than the surrounding skin.



Verrucae can cause discomfort dependant on size, depth, position of the lesion, and the age of the patient. Patients often complain that a verruca feels like a small stone under the foot. They can be asymptomatic (not painful) especially those that are smaller in size. Verrucae can sometimes be mistaken for corns, so to differiate, pressure should be applied to the verrucae from the side. If a painful or pricking sensation is felt then verrucae tissue will be present. Larger verrucae can also be painful if located on a pressure- bearing area of the foot.



The human papilloma virus causes all verrucae. This is common in all environments. The virus enters the skin through microscopic breaks and abrasions, which give the virus an opportunity to enter. Verrucae are commonly contracted in communal areas such as swimming pools and changing areas making them very common amongst children.

The Prevention of verrucae :

Regular examination of the feet will lead to early diagnosis and speedy treatment. Flip-flops, or pool shoes should be used in all communal areas, changing rooms and up to the pool edge at swimming pools. It is a good idea to take a small towel to put on the floor of the changing cubicle whilst changing; or alternatively keep the flip flops on as long as possible.

Treatment of Verruca:

If a verruca is painless and presenting no problems there is not always a need to seek treatment of the lesions. These verrucae will often resolve themselves given time, which can vary from six months to several years. If the verruca is of significant size, is painful or is a long-standing lesion then professional advice from a Podiatrist should be sought.

It is not advisable to use home remedies purchased from the Pharmacy as these preparations contain acids which we use with caution, and to which an allergy may be present. Professional advice should always be sought first before using these preparations.

There are a variety of treatments available including surgical, chemical, cryotherapy (freezing), and homeopathic. The Podiatrist will consider each individual case and advise on the most appropriate treatment.

Diabetics, patients with poor circulation, and those on long-term medication such as steroids, should always consult a Podiatrist before commencing any treatment.
Expectant mothers should not be treated during their pregnancy or during breast -feeding as they will be resistant to treatment during these times.