Believe it or not, many people aren’t aware that verrucae and warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Verrucae can be found on the feet and toes and warts are located on the hands and fingers.
A verruca presents as a rough, raised area of skin with visible black dots. Usually pinching the lesion causes discomfort. They are benign but they can be uncomfortable if they develop on weight bearing areas.
Evidence states that verrucae disappear of their own accord within six months for children and two years for healthy adults. As the lesion is caused by a virus, the immune system needs to create antibodies in order for the verruca to disappear.
There are many over the counter (OTC) treatments available, but the success rate for these has been documented as quite low (approximately 30-40%).
Treatments now focus on stimulating the immune system to recognise the HPV and therefore create antibodies to fight the virus. There are a number of ways to achieve this:
- Verruca needling involves pushing the virus deeper into the subcutaneous tissues of the foot where white blood cells lie. This is performed under local anaesthetic and requires no down time.
- Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to create an ice burn and stimulate the immune system via inflammation. Blistering can occur 3-7 days after the procedure, but no down time is required.
- Salicyclic acid does not stimulate the immune system, but it is an effective way to encourage infected skin cells to peel off.
The health and age of the patient will dictate which type of treatment is most suitable.