Verrucae are warts found on or around the toes and the soles of the feet. Podiatrists have treatments for this common viral skin infection, which are otherwise unavailable.Book your appointment »
A verruca is the result of an infection from certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). It appears like a small, dark, puncture mark later turning grey or brown. It may become rough and bumpy with a cauliflower-like appearance. It can also develop a black spot in the middle, as the result of bleeding. A verruca can grow in diameter and may spread into a cluster.
Verrucae are typically painless, but the disruption they cause to the skin if one develops on a weight-bearing area such as the ball or the heel of the foot, can cause a sharp, burning pain. The pressure of weight bearing can cause the resulting hard skin to protrude painfully into the skin.
What can a podiatrist do?
Verrucae are harmless and will spontaneously heal over time without treatment, but can persist for years. The general policy in the UK is to only treat them when they are causing pain.
There are a number of treatments available for warts. However, no single treatment is 100% effective, and sometimes the wart may return. The most effective current treatment was released in the UK by it’s Scottish manufacturer, Emblation, at the end of 2016 and is a microwave therapy called SWIFT. This is available here at The Nantwich Clinic. The aim of treatment is to remove the wart without it returning and without leaving any scarring. Treatments include, acids, cryotherapy, SWIFT and surgery.
Some treatments may cause side effects such as mild pain, blistering and skin irritation around the wart.
Many treatments, such as creams, gels, paints and medicated plasters, are available over-the-counter from pharmacies. It has been shown that acid is effective at treating verrucae. Acids are not selective and also destroy the surrounding healthy skin, so it is important to have the treatment professionally applied, particularly if you are vulnerable or high risk. Before applying the treatment excess skin around the affected area should be reduced in order to improve its efficacy. Follow the instructions that come with the medication. You may need to apply the treatment daily for 12 weeks or longer. You should stop the treatment if your skin becomes sore and seek advice from your GP or pharmacist. Also consult your GP before using over-the-counter treatments that contain acid if you have poor circulation – for example, if you have a condition such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease as there is an increased risk of damage to your skin, nerves and tendons.
In cryotherapy a freezing agent is sprayed onto the verruca in order to destroy the affected skin cells. After treatment, a painful blister may form. Cryotherapy usually takes 5-15 minutes and it can be painful. Most verrucae need to be frozen a number of times, a week or so apart, before they clear up.
Cryotherapy is not usually recommended to treat young children because they may find the treatment too painful, or it may be difficult for them to stay in the same position while having the treatment.
Possible side effects of cryotherapy include:
• Pain and blistering
• your skin may become darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation), particularly if you have black skin
• your nails may develop an abnormal change in shape or structure if cryotherapy is used to treat warts that develop under the nails (periungual warts)
Swift Microwave Therapy
Swift is a relatively new technology, developed in the UK, which has been licenced for the general treatment of skin lesions in Podiatry and Dermatology. Swift uses microwave energy which is delivered through a special probe applied to the skin to treat the affected tissue.
Does it hurt?
Like many treatments for skin lesions, some minor discomfort may be experienced. Before treatment the podiatrist may decide to reduce the verruca with a blade.
Pain levels vary from person to person but most people undergoing Swift liken it to a pain similar to an injection or a scratch, lasting 2 – 3 seconds then quickly subsiding.
How many treatments will I need?
This is dependent on how you respond to treatment. In most cases, you will need more than one treatment (these can be from 14 days to over a month apart depending on the response). We have found three treatments to be most successful and to encourage this success we offer a course of three treatments at a special discounted price. Our Podiatrists or reception team will be able to discuss this with you.
What can I do after treatment?
In some cases, the treated area may feel sore but will not prevent you undertaking normal daily activities.
Can anyone receive this treatment?
With a few exceptions, most people with verrucae are able to have this treatment. Our Podiatrist will carry out an assessment prior to treatment and be able to advise you on this.
The percentage success rates of these treatments are as follows
Stats taken from the society of Chiropodist & Podiatrist’s website 2017
30% Success Rate
30% Success Rate
Clinical effectiveness in alignment with clinical study, circa 77%*.
*Details taken from Emblation SOCAP 16-Nov-17 survey outcome