Verrucae are plantar warts that commonly occur on the soles of the feet around the toes. They are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and can often be mistaken for corns or calluses. Verrucae are distintive to diagnose as they are a white cauliflower-type growth with tiny black spots in the middle. Verrucae tend to thrive in hot, damp environments such as swimming pools, changing room floors and communal shower areas. They tend to spread easily by walking across the same area of floor as someone who is infected. Verrucae are harmless, but can become painful if they develop into a cluster and are positioned on a heavily weight-bearing area of the foot. They can also spread to other areas of the foot if left untreated. 

Verrucae may disappear on their own as the immune system recognises the virus and fights it off. If they do not disappear by themselves, initally they can be treated from home using pharmacy recommended gels and creams. If over the counter gels do not work, and the area becomes inflamed, then self-treatment must stop and it is advisable to seek treatment from a professional podiatrist / chiropodist. Your podiatrist may use some of the following methods to treat your verrucae:

  • Acid-based treatments, which are stronger than regular ‘over the counter’ (OTC) treatments from your local pharmacy 
  • Cryotherapy, which involves freezing the verruca with liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide gas 
  • Electrosurgery, which requires a local anaesthetic to be given 
  • Excisional surgery, which is similar to the above 
  • Laser surgery, particularly for larger areas of verrucae. 



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