Verrucas are plantar warts that commonly occur on the soles of the feet or around the toe area. They are caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is contagious through direct person-to-person contact. There are various forms of HPV, which all relate to various parts of the human body.
The HPV virus is thought to thrive in moist, damp environments such as swimming pools, changing room floors and communal shower areas. It is possible to contract verrucas simply by walking across the same floor area as someone who already has a verruca, especially if you have any open lesions, cracked heels and cuts.
Verruca are most commonly seen in children and young adults. but anyone is vulnerable to them. It is possible to develop an immunity against the virus, but most people remain susceptible.
The most common appearance is that of a small cauliflower-type growth on the soles of your feet with tiny black dots. If it is painful when you pinch the area (like when you squeeze a spot), you are likely to have a Verruca. They can start as a single dot, and if left untreated, may spread into a cluster of small warts.
Verrucas are harmless, but can be uncomfortable and painful if they develop on a weight bearing part of the foot. In addition, hard skin (callus) can form over the top of the Verruca, increasing the discomfort in this area. There are also some strains of the virus that spread very quickly and can look unsightly.
The Podiatrist will examine your Verruca and advise you of the best treatment option. The treatment provided will depend on the number, size and location of the Verruca in addition to your overall health and well being.
Treatment is usually only recommended if the Verruca appears to be spreading and/or is painful. The most common form of treatment is Cryotherapy.
Cryospray (the spray form of Cryotherapy) is based on the principle that living cells which are rapidly frozen are initially damaged and subsequently die from the effects of freezing. It is now widely thought that it is the rate of cooling and thawing which causing this effect rather than the actual temperature achieved and that in practice few cells are able to change quickly enough to protect themselves from the rapid change in temperature. It is probable that the membranes of the affected cells are ruptured during freezing, releasing cell contents and viral antigens. This release is picked up by the immune system which can eventually result in a reduction and or clearance of the Verruca.
Cryospray is designed to freeze tissues to approximately -50 degrees to achieve an effective result. Other cryogenic treatments (e.g. liquid nitrogen) can reduce the temperature of the tissues to -185 degrees which may result in a lot of pain.
Please note, it is very important that the patient returns for a follow-up consultation to allow for the feet to be examined. We usually recommend a minimum of 3 treatment sessions with a 1- 2 week gap in between each appointment.
Although medical research is always ongoing, it should be noted that currently there is no guaranteed treatment for the permanent removal of Verruca and each patient may have a different outcome.