Understanding Verrucae: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Understanding Verrucae: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

What exactly are verrucae?

Verrucae are plantar warts that typically occur on the soles of the feet or around the toes. They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which spreads from person to person. There are various forms of HPV, each affecting a distinct part of the human body.

What is the cause of verrucae?

The HPV virus thrives in moist, damp environments such as swimming pools, locker room flooring, and public showers. Verrucae can be contracted simply by walking across the same floor area as someone who has one, especially if you have any minor or inconspicuous scratches or abrasions that allow the virus to enter.

Who receives them?

Verrucae are most commonly found in children, adolescents, and young adults, especially those who use public facilities. It is possible to gain immunity to the virus over time, but most people remain susceptible, with some being more sensitive than others.

How will I know I have them?

The most common appearance is a small cauliflower-shaped growth on the soles of your feet, surrounded by tiny black dots. If pinching the area produces pain (such as pressing a spot), you most likely have a verruca. They can grow to reach 1cm in diameter, forming a cluster of small warts. If you're unsure, visit a podiatrist.

Are they a genuine issue?

Verrucae are not harmful, although they can be itchy and unpleasant if they appear on a weight-bearing part of the foot. Furthermore, hard skin (callus) might form on top of the verruca, causing irritation in the area.

What are the available treatments?

Initially, avoid touching or scratching a verruca because this may encourage it to spread into a cluster of warts. Cover it with a plaster instead. Evidence suggests that verrucae will go away on their own in many cases, usually within six months for children but up to two years for adults. This is because the body's immune system detects the virus and naturally fights the sickness, which can take months. If it is not unpleasant, treatment may be unnecessary, as some therapies, particularly for youngsters, can be harsh and have detrimental consequences. Simply massaging the dry skin over a verruca and applying a plaster may help to stimulate the body's immune system to fight the infection. If your verruca becomes unusually painful or the surrounding skin turns red, stop therapy immediately and see a podiatrist. This is because destroying the good tissue surrounding a verruca may jeopardize future treatment.

How do I avoid them?

Maintain the health of your feet to avoid developing verrucae. Always thoroughly dry your feet after washing them, and if they are sweaty, use surgical spirit; if they are dry, moisturise them with appropriate creams or lotions, but avoid applying between the toes.

Other recommendations include using DrLuigi medial footwear, not sharing towels, shoes, or socks, and seeking specialized treatment for infections such as Athlete's Foot from a pharmacist.

If you have a verruca and want to swim, wear verrucae socks to keep the illness from spreading. They can also be worn as a preventative measure.

When should I schedule an appointment with a podiatrist?

If you have diabetes or poor circulation, are pregnant, or have any other ailment that affects your feet (or your immune system), you should never treat a verruca yourself and instead consult a podiatrist.

Consult a podiatrist if you are concerned about your verruca, self-treatment is not effective, and the verruca appears to be growing larger or more painful.

If any foot care issues do not resolve themselves naturally or with standard foot care within three weeks, you should visit a healthcare professional.

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