Verruca – Your FAQs
What is a verruca?
It is basically a harmless, though annoying microscopic virus or skin cell parasite which form a lump within the outer layer of skin. And before you go “shock horror!” at the word parasite, let me explain. All viruses (colds, flu, cold sores etc) behave like parasites because they are “incomplete beings”, they can only survive and replicate inside a “host cell” because they don’t have all the “bits” they need to survive independently, the host cell gives them what they are missing. Verrucas, (derived from the Human Papiloma Virus which also cause skin warts) need the cells of the outer layer of skin (epidermis) to live in.
So how did I, or my son/daughter get one?
You got it through contact with the viral particle ie. by walking barefoot on an area of floor which had microscopic residue of virally infected skin cells from another person (we all shed skin cells from our outer layer of skin all the time, this is normal and makes up most of the content of house dust). Typical areas for this to happen are :-swimming pool changing rooms which have tiles which scratch off skin cells and often wet floors, or gym changing rooms, or sports floors where barefoot activity occurs like martial arts where friction also rubs off skin cells.
If you think of your skin as a brick wall of defence, suppose you scratch it on a rough surface, causing a crack between the bricks, that tiny entry point is all the virus needs to get into the skin.
Does the verruca appear immediately after this?
No, it can sit there for quite a while before you even notice a change in the skin (latent period), sometimes you might notice a pearly looking spot on the skin. Its thought that the virus only becomes active when the body is “stressed”, this could simply be even from tiredness or lack of sleep as this suppresses the bodys immune system (natural defence mechanisms) and allows the virus to grow. (Think about when you last caught a cold, there’s often a tipping point beforehand where you were “run down” or “tired” and again the cold virus was able to take advantage at that point to emerge).
How catching are they (will all the family get them?)
Not necessarily, no. This is an “opportunistic virus” (see how did I get it above), it needs the skin to be weakened in some way (scratch on skin etc.) to allow entry. Often at home the surfaces we walk on barefoot are not so rough as the ones in pool changing rooms, and shower trays at home are smoother than those in gyms (generally)…see where I’m going here? Plus as adults, we have often had verrucas or warts in our own childhood so we may well have formed antibodies (immune cells in the blood which fight infection) to them which means we don’t catch them.
I’m an adult, I’ve had these verrucas for years, I’ve used everything, why wont they go?
Fact is some warts/verrucas will respond straight away to one of the myriad of treatments available and some will resist all, some will go on their own with no treatment at all. Its bizarre because it is both simple and complex. They do all go, EVENTUALLY, however in some cases I’ve seen it take 20 years. It’s all down to getting the immune system to “wake up and activate”, because the virus can be like a Clingon under a cloaking device (to use a star trek analogy), it hides well from the immune system, so if it cant be detected, it can’t be fought against. (Imagine trying to have a sword fight with an invisible opponent)
See me explain in this video how the virus hides from the immune system:
Why are there so many different treatments for verrucas?
There all sorts of suggested treatments for verrucas including things like :
- using vinegar
- selling it to some one
- burying a penny in the garden and wishing it away
- applying duct tape
- salicylic acid/how do I home treat?
- having them “cut” out
- frozen with cryo therapy
- laser treated
- Swift microwave therapy about Swift FAQ
- Falknor needling
Which one works eh!!!????
That is the BIG question!! Believe me, if I had the 100% cure all for verrucas I would be so happy as I could help so many people! The answer is they all work and they all don’t work…for SOME people. Everyones body is different, we all respond differently to lots of things. Just as paracetamol is a great headache cure for some, it doesn’t work for all, and that’s just the truth.
Having said that, I am really, really excited about the new Microwave therapy Swift . Available at Lane Ends Podiatry since October 2016 (first practice in the area). Early research showed more than 70% success. That is better than anything else on the market at present. Since we got it we have had some really good results, especially in younger people, whose immune system responds faster.
Here is a man I greatly respect, Dr Ivan Bristow, a specialist in foot related skin disorders, explaining what I’ve talked about here with some great animations:-
This is the blog he wrote about verrucas and how common in adults they are.
What happens when I come to see you with my verruca?
There are basically 5/6 options that we look at considering with you at your first appointment:-
1) Occlusive Taping (really good on young children, painless and keeps them comfortable)
2) Caustics/Acid (typically Salycylic acid)
- requires repeated applications over weeks/months,
- keeping dressing in place and dry between treatment
- or self treatment:home treating with acid
3) Cryotherapy (freezing) often needs repeat treatment
5) Falknors needling (requires local anaesthetic to numb skin on the foot, no driving permitted whist numb). Here is a video demonstration of what this involves by Dr Kevin Kirby)
6) “A tincture of time” -doing nothing (as verrucas are a harmless skin virus). Many cases will resolve within 2 years without treatment.
So if you think we are the Podiatrists to help you
with your verrucas
Please just book online or pick up the phone and call us
We are waiting to help you