Verrucae are warts, usually found on the soles of the foot, although they can grow around the toes.

Verrucae are caused by a papilomavirus, which is also responsible for warts on other parts of the body. The virus is contagious and seems to thrive in damp conditions - such as swimming pools, showers and bathrooms. It can only be caught by direct contact with the virus, by walking on say, wet surfaces or by using infected towels. Cuts and foot injuries can increase the risk of picking up a verruca.

Verrucae usually start as a tiny pink area speckled with black dots. They then become dark brownish in colour with a rough crumbly surface, sometimes covered by a layer of hard skin. Verrucae may be tiny, or as much as 1/2in/1.25cm across (the mosaic type tend to be large). There may be one or many verrucae, spread around the foot, or in irregularly shaped groups.
Warts are easily confused with corns and calluses, but are, in fact, quite different. Warts are usually more painful when pinched, as opposed to direct pressure, and may appear anywhere on the foot, whereas corns and calluses are more likely on weight-bearing areas. Warts usually have what may be described as a "pepper pot" appearance.

Verrucae mainly affect children and young adults, probably because they are more likely than most to use communal showers and pools. Cuts or injuries to the foot increase the risk of infection.

What should i do if i think i have a verrucae?
If a verruca does appear, start by covering it with a plaster, which can be an effective cure in some cases. The body's natural immune system can often wipe out the verrucae without any treatment. As a general rule, if the verrucae does not hurt and is not getting any bigger, it is best to leave well alone. Treatment options are varied. Initially, you may try treating it yourself with a gel or ointment brought from the chemist. These should be used with care, as they can burn the surrounding skin and make the verruca more resistant to further treatment, if not applied properly.

If the verrucae is painful, or getting larger, come and see us. Your verruca may be removed surgically under local anaesthetic, by freezing, or by forms of electro-surgery which are quick and may be completed in one visit. Chemical lotions or ointments may be applied at weekly intervals over a period of time to destroy the infection.

How can i prevent myself from getting a verrucae?
You can help prevent verrucae by washing your feet regularly, by taking sensible precautions in communal changing areas, such as not walking barefoot, and by using flip-flops, or even verruca socks, which will help to avoid infection.