Warts and Verrucae

Warts are growths of tough skin caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Overview

When warts appear on the soles of the feet, these are known as verrucae. Warts are contagious, but in most people with no underlying health conditions, the risk of catching them is low.

Most people will develop a wart at some point in their lives, and there are several different types of warts.

Warts commonly appear on the hands, knees, or feet, but they can also appear on the face.

Warts don’t usually cause other symptoms, but they might be painful, especially if they are located in or near areas like the nail beds. Often people are more affected by the way they look than by any physical symptoms, and this can negatively impact self-esteem.

Warts and verrucae usually resolve on their own, and typically the GP or pharmacist can offer over the counter solutions to help speed up the process, but sometimes other treatments might be suitable.



People who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed as a result of health conditions or taking certain medications might be more likely to develop a wart or verrucae, and so they should take care to avoid exposure to the viruses that cause them.



Symptoms of Warts and Verrucae

Warts and verrucae are caused by specific strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), and as the virus infects skin cells, they cause it to become thicker and coarser.

The 4 main types of warts look different, but they are all caused by the same exposure to the virus. These types are;

These small round-shaped raised growths usually have a rough surface and can look cauliflower-like. Usually they are the same colour of the skin, but closer inspection can reveal tiny dark dots on the surface of the wart. They most often appear on the hands or knees, and they can be the size of a pinprick, or develop to about the size of a pencil eraser.
Also known as verrucae, which may also be spelled verrucas, these warts appear on the soles of the feet, and are often painful to walk on. They will often present with tiny dark-coloured dots in the centre, and are usually flat due to the pressure caused by the body’s weight when upright. Clusters of the warts can appear and fuse together, causing what’s known as mosaic warts.
These growths are round and smooth and can be flat or only raised slightly, which is why they’re also called flat warts. They can frequently be yellowish in hue, and they can present as one wart, or develop into groups of dozens, or even hundreds of warts in any area of the body – typically on the face, neck, backs of the hands or on the legs
These growths are caused by a different strain of HPV, and are spread by skin to skin sexual contact. Genital warts are a type of genital dermatoses and require treatment.

Causes of Warts and Verrucae

Warts and verrucae are caused by specific strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV).

Contact with HPV occurs either through direct contact with infected skin; or when the skin comes into contact with contaminated floors or surfaces, for example, in communal showers.

It’s more likely to become infected if the skin is damaged or wet, which is why warts and verrucae are often linked to pools or gyms.

If warts or verrucae are scratched, they may spread viral particles to other areas of the skin.

People who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed as a result of health conditions or taking certain medications might be more likely to develop a wart or verrucae, and so they should take care to avoid exposure to the viruses that cause them.

Treatment of Warts and Verrucae at Derma

While your GP can diagnose and treat warts and verrucae, we are more than happy to see patients who prefer to consult a private dermatology specialist.

The appointment will be will begin with an examination of the skin (also called a skin check) and discussing your medical history. If you are seeking to confirm a diagnosis for a child, the dermatologist may ask questions about the medical histories of the parents, in order to rule out any underlying or co-occurring condition.

Most cases of warts and verrucae don’t need treatment – especially since they usually resolve on their own within 6-12 months, and because treatment can be time-consuming or have side-effects, however for those who need or want it, there are treatments available.

Cryotherapy or ‘freezing’ is often successful in treating a wart, and topical wart paints might also be suitable. In rare cases, it might be appropriate to undergo a minor surgery called excision to remove a wart.

Together with the dermatologist, you will be able to discuss the latest and most effective treatments and explain all potential side-effects, enabling you to select the best option for you, or for your child.

Whatever your needs, you can rest assured that Derma will provide the very best care with access to the latest research and treatment methods.

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