Wart (Verrucae): Symptoms and Treatment
Rainy and windy days, short days and long nights, heaters and red wine, this is winter to me. As a podiatrist though, winter also signals the onslaught of wart cases into the clinic. Whether it is a child who is doing swimming lessons at indoor locations or gym junkies taking their training indoors because of the cold weather, winter seems to be the season of warts.
Warts (otherwise known as verrucae) are caused by a viral infection. The virus in question is the human papillomavirus (HPV-1) and this infection causes lesions to form on the skin and quite commonly on the skin.
Warts are most common in children but can present at any age, especially on people with finer skin that is more easily damaged and those that are run down or immunosuppressed (think pregnant women or emotionally stressed individuals).
Warts are commonly spread in public areas such as swimming pools, change rooms, and public bathrooms. They are commonly spread by scratching them or being in direct contact with other people who have warts.
Some warts go away on their own without treatment but quite often, without medical treatment, they can increase in size and depth and can multiply and spread. They can also become painful if left untreated. Generally speaking the longer warts are left untreated the more stubborn they can be to remove. One rule I’ve heard about over my time about how long it takes to resolve a wart is “take the time you have had the wart and double it”
Warts are commonly found on the soles of the feet. They are usually small hard bumps that can have black dots in them. Commonly warts are misdiagnosed as corns (and vice versa) and therefore should be properly diagnosed by a medical professional.
Some simple differences between warts and corns include:
- Warts are painful to squeeze and corns are painful to apply direct pressure to
- Warts often have small black dots in the centre of them
- A wart can be found anywhere on the foot and corns generally occur only in pressure areas or over bony prominences
In many instances the papillomavirus lays dormant in the body without any sign of a wart. In this way it behaves similar to the herpes virus (think a cold sore). Warts are infectious, however for infection to occur in someone who doesn’t have the virus there generally needs to be a break in the skin to facilitate entry.
In our clinic we have several different treatment options that we use to remove warts, many of which do not cause any discomfort.
These Wart treatment options may include:
- Natural therapies such as Thuja,
- Cryotherapy or freezing such as Histofreezer or Liquid Nitrogen,
- Chemical or acid based treatments like salicylic acid and silver nitrate.
Other options include cautery or burning and surgical removal.
As with all health issues, if unsure, consultation with a podiatrist or medical professional will enable you to decide whether the wart requires treatment and what the most appropriate option is for you.