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Top Tips for Dealing with Warts & Verrucas

At some point, almost everyone will have to deal with the irritation that is a wart or a verruca. Those nasty little lumps can pop up unexpectedly and cause an irritation as well as a bit of embarrassment. So what can be done to deal with them?

The Basics

Warts are little lumps that appear on the feet, often singly and sometimes in little clusters. When warts appear on the feet, they are known as verrucas. Despite their appearance, they are not cancerous and are in fact, caused by an infection of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The virus causes the excess production of something called keratin, a hard protein, which builds up on the top layer of the skin and creates the hard texture of the wart. 

People often think that warts are extremely contagious and can pass easily from one person to another. While they can be caught by close skin-to-skin contact, they are otherwise hard not contagious. However, the infection that causes them can be caught by contact with a contaminated surface or object, such as the edges of a swimming pool. You are also more likely to get the infection if your skin is wet which is why swimming pools are often seen as the main hotspot for catching verrucas. 

You can also spread the virus causing the wart if you scratch, knock or bite at it. Even shaving the area of the wart can spread the virus. Infection doesn’t lead to an instant wart, it can take weeks or even months to appear. 

Treatment

Most of the time, warts and verrucas vanish on their own with very little treatment needed.  But how long they hang around for can vary dramatically from person to person, with some people having them for up to two years. This is because the virus that causes them can linger in the body for a long time. 

People sometimes seek treatment for warts if they become painful or are in a place that causes discomfort or embarrassment. The various treatment methods available range from; the use of salicylic acid, freezing the skin cells, using duct tape, or using chemical treatments. A number of treatments are available over the counter such as creams, paints, gels and special plasters. Unfortunately, treatment isn’t always successful as the wart can come straight back after treating. Surgery is rarely used to deal with the problem but seeking treatment from a foot clinic may be worth considering.

If you are unsure whether the growth is a wart or something more serious, then a visit to your podiatrist may be in order. Most warts and verrucas have a uniform appearance - a circular cauliflower shape sometimes with black dots inside, usually slightly raised with a hard edge and a softer centre. If they look different to the pictures you see on the internet, be sure to check with a specialist. Other symptoms that may warrant an immediate visit to the doctor include if the wart bleeds, spreads or changes its appearance.