All about Verrucae….. Verrucae are caused by the HPV virus and whilst they are contagious, the risk of catching them is low. Unfortunately if you are unlucky and do catch one, there is no proven effective treatment that works in every case. Some treatments work for some people whilst for others it will have no effect. The good news is that most verrucae will just disappear of their own accord with no treatment – although this may take up to 2 years.
Why is there no proven treatment? Verrucae are very clever! As they are a virus, they need to be killed by your own immune system. The body is generally good at this – if it knows what it needs to kill! Unfortunately Verrucae operate in such a way as to make themselves ‘unknown’ to your body. Verrucae are living organisms and need nutrition. They do this by creating their own blood vessels within themselves which connect to your blood and they are able to draw blood up into themselves. These blood vessels are the dark spots you see on the verruca.
Unfortunately the blood supply is one way only. The verruca lies in the top layer of the skin (the epidermis), but draws from your blood vessels in the dermis layer of the skin. However nothing from the verruca enters your blood system. Hence the body’s immune system is unable to identify the virus and thus deal with it.
Treatments.. Our advice is to leave the verruca alone to clear up itself. However if it is painful and/or is limiting what you can do - then you may wish to try to treat. There are various treatments available. This includes self-help, over the counter products, dry needling or surgical removal. They are generally based on occlusion, destruction, freezing and inducing an immune reaction. Some of the treatments contain salicylic acid – and strength of less than 26% w/w is unlikely to be effective.
Over the Counter - There are two main types – salicylic acid and freezing. Salicylic acid at no lower than 26% strength is most effective.
Bazuka Extra Strength Gel 5g (approx. £7) – This contains 26% w/w salicylic acid and involves applying the gel and filing (file included). This is a good starting point – but if not successful you could then try Bazuka Sub Zero below…
Bazuka Sub Zero (approx £14) – this is based on cryotherapy – ie freezing of the wart. Sometimes only one treatment is needed – and if successful the verruca will fall off after around 10 days. Please note this treatment is not pain free… Additionally there are other brands that offer this treatment, but Bazuka use a special safety cap to ensure accuracy so only the verruca is frozen…
Home Remedies - These include using duct tape. You basically soak your foot in warm water and then file the verruca with an emery board. Then apply silver heavy duty duct tape. Leave on for 1 week. Take off, soak and file again. Leave open overnight. Soak, file again and apply duct tape. Repeat this until it has gone. Banana skins can also be used. Tape the white side of a banana skin to your foot and leave overnight. Then file it with an emery board in the morning. Repeat until disappeared. There are others and they are all unproven – they may work for you but they may not…
Dry Needling– this is performed under local anaesthetic by a Doctor or Podiatrist – its aim is to promote an immune response. Quite a new treatment, and as yet no research as to its proven effectiveness.
Cryotherapy with Liquid Nitrogen – this can be undertaken by a Podiatrist qualified in this technique
Surgery –Verrucae can be removed surgically by a Doctor – but they generally grow back
How can Plymouth Foot Care help? We are always happy to discuss and offer advice on verrucae. As stated most verruca disappear on their own. However they can attract callus and become uncomfortable. We can remove this callus and generally pare down the verruca by scalpel to improve comfort.
If you purchase any treatments, always read the information sheet to ensure it is suitable for you to use..And if you have any concerns, always seek medical help