The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Verrucas!

Posted by on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

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Verrucas–it’s a lovely word, isn’t it? What could it be? Perhaps it’s a name for a soft southern breeze felt in the autumn in Trieste, or maybe it’s the name of a candy sold only in Luxembourg. Maybe it’s something that flamenco dancers cry out at the height of particularly ecstatic performances. Or isn’t “Verruca” the name of that adorable little dog being walked by the glamorous Russian woman in the park?

Alas. If only. I am afraid that I must tell you–if you did not already know–that verrucas are warts that may be found on the sole of your foot. They are also known as plantar warts. I know, I’m disappointed too. Nevertheless, let’s investigate.

Okay, so verrucas are warts. I’m not a wart connoisseur. How do I know I have one? Verrucas are usually about 1 millimeter to 1 centimeter in size, and may look like they’re covered in tiny black dots; these are blood vessels. They don’t exactly hurt, but they may feel as if you have a pebble under your foot. If you’re unsure about whether something is a verruca, you may want to have it checked out to rule out other possibilities such as skin cancer.

Supposing I did discover one of these on my foot–how the heck did I get it? Verrucas actually come from the Human Papillomavirus, often referred to as HPV. The virus is highly contagious, so you most likely got it–if, indeed, you have it–from contact with another person who has it or from walking where someone else who had the virus had walked; the virus can survive for some time without a human host. Injured or wet skin is more likely to contract the virus, so swimming pools or any place where the walking surface is damp are veritable HPV parties. Now you have another reason why not to walk around locker rooms, pool areas, or public showers barefoot!

Well, what would I do if I found one on my foot? In most cases, nothing. Verrucas usually clear up on their own within two years. Your main goal should be to avoid passing it on to someone else. In other words, keep your shoes on and if you’re going swimming, put waterproof plasters on them or special swimming socks.

If, however, the verrucas are causing you discomfort or making you paralyzingly self-conscious, there are some treatments you can try:

  • Salicylic acid ointments or creams. This is a common wart treatment that may speed up the disappearance of a verruca.
  • Cryotherapy. This is a treatment where liquid nitrogen is applied to the verruca to freeze it and kill the cells. Cryotherapy is done in a doctor’s office and usually takes several treatments. It may have some side effects like painful blisters and the effectiveness varies widely; it works for some people, but does nothing for others.
  • Duct Tape. Yes, duct tape. Put a piece of fresh duct tape over your verruca every day for six days, then soak the wart area in water and rub off the rough skin with an emery board. Repeat the process for about two months or until the verruca disappears. Again, effectiveness varies wildly–some swear by it, others duct tape their foot for two months and find that it doesn’t work at all.
  • Other home remedies. There are several of these: tea tree oil, aloe vera, garlic oil, vitamin E oil, cider vinegar. They’re worth a try, and at best will work, at worst, will leave your feet smelling…interesting.

Overall, it seems that unless you have a real reason why your verruca is a problem, you should just leave it alone other than to try to keep from passing it on to others. Eventually your feet will be happy and verruca-free.

If you are not sure whether you have a verruca or have any other questions about a foot issue, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.

 

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.