Verrucae are warts that can be found anywhere on the foot but commonly occur on the soles of the feet. They can even be found around the edges of nails. They are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and are passed from person to person by direct contact. The virus is thought to thrive in moist, damp environments such as swimming pools, changing room floors and communal shower areas. If an infected foot deposits skin cells onto the floor then it is possible to walk across the same floor and pick up the virus especially if your skin is cut or scratched.



They are harmless but in some circumstances they develop on a weight bearing area of the foot where they are likely to be painful. In these areas callus (hard skin) can also form over the top of the verruca, increasing the discomfort. Some strains of verrucae spread very quickly and can become unsightly.



They are most commonly seen in children, teenagers and young adults. Basically those who use communal changing rooms. In time, immunity may develop against the verruca virus but some people do remain more susceptible than others. 



The classic appearance is cauliflower like, sometimes containing small black dots which are caused by small blood vessels leaking blood into the verruca. They can vary in size and numbers. An early stage verruca can look like a small, discoloured blemish on the skin, and be easily mistaken for a corn. Sometimes a verruca can quickly spread into a cluster made up of many tiny verrucae. A simple diagnostic test is to pinch the skin where you think you may have a verruca. If it hurts, you may have a verruca. Corns tend not to hurt if you pinch them, but hurt if you press them. Pressing a verruca is generally painless. If you are still unsure before starting treatment, see a podiatrist or speak to your local pharmacist.



Evidence has shown that, in many cases, verrucae will disappear of their own accord within 2 years and therefore if it is painless no treatment is required. The body's defence mechanism, the immune system, will recognise the virus and fight the infection. Due to the nature of the virus, this may take many months to happen. Letting nature heal the verruca is the best and safest course of action. For painful, unsightly verrucae, or ones which are spreading, you should seek professional help from a podiatrist.



Treatments will vary depending on size, location, number and type:



This is often the first line of treatment and involves freezing the verruca using nitrous oxide. Ashton Podiatry offers the latest verrucae treatment available in the form of cryopen. Cryopen is the new dimension in cryotherapy, accurate, effective giving incredible rapid stress free treatment.

The cryopen emits a fine jet of nitrous oxide under high pressure which allows millimetre precision treatments. It is incredibly accurate with no collateral damage to the healthy surrounding tissues. There is no risk of allergic reaction and you can still swim after this type of treatment .



This involves ointments or liquids containing acids. The podiatrist will decide as to which type and strength of acid is most suited to the type, number and location of the verruca. These acids act by carefully and gently destroying the layer of skin that the virus has infected. Immediately after treatment the affected foot needs to be kept dry for 48 hours. Follow up will depend on the type of acid and duration applied. The foot must be kept clean and dry following treatment.



Dry needling is carried out painlessly under local anaesthetic. A sterile needle is then used to cause localised trauma to the verruca itself.

The purpose of this is to disrupt the papillae in the verruca and by implanting the virus in the dermal layer allows the body's immune system to recognise the virus. This stimulates a cell-mediated immune response and thus attack the lesion directly. This can result in spontaneous regression in some/all satellite verrucae.

By using this technique, instead of many treatments involving chemical cautery or cryotherapy, it may only require one dry needling session. This technique has been around for about 40 years and is used fairly regularly in the United States.This form of treatment will only be carried out for the most resistant verrucae . The cost of this treatment starts at £200 depending on type, location and number.