This blog is written by our clinicians and aims to keep patients informed with up to date information on medical conditions.
Warts and verrucas are notoriously difficult to get rid of. Some may manage to get rid of them within weeks or months, but some patients are bothered by this painful and / or unsightly condition for many years.
So what are the warts, verrucas and how you can get cured?
What are warts?
Warts are caused by infection with the human papilloma virus which affects the outer layer of the skin(epidermis). This results in the top layer of the skin thickening creating a growth which is called a wart on most areas of the body but is known as a planta wart or more commonly verruca on the sole of the foot.
How do you get warts?
As warts are caused by a virus they can be spread to other people through close skin to skin contact and verrucae can be passed on through skin scales that are shed on poolside tiles and communal shower cubicles. The virus enters through breaks in the skin and this is more common when the skin is moist. Not everyone exposed to the virus goes on to develop warts and it is not know why this happens. What do warts look like? Warts appear as growths on the skin and can be anything from 1mm to 7 cm, and there can be one or many. They tend to have a rough surface that protrudes from the skin surface and you may see black dots which blocked blood vessels are.
Are warts dangerous?
Although warts are not a serious condition some people find them unsightly and worry about infecting others, as they are transmitted by contact. They can be embarrassing for people who work in the food industry or with the public if they are visible.
Plantar warts can also be painful if they are on a weight bearing area and warts around nails can distort the nail.
How are they diagnosed?
Warts are diagnosed based on their appearance. Sometimes corns or callouses can be mistaken for warts and the skin needs to be pared down to assess them further.
How are warts treated?
There is no single treatment that can be guaranteed to be effective in every case. Warts are known to be difficult to get rid of and sometimes need multiple treatments. Most warts and verrucae will resolve after a few months but they can last for several years.
Warts are not routinely treated by the NHS as they are self-limiting and can be time consuming to treat. At the ROC clinic we believe that warts should be treated if they are troublesome or causing concern. We are able to offer the following treatments:
- Topical treatment is with topical gels and creams with salicylic acid which removes the outer layer of the skin and trigger the immune system. Most people have tried these with little success as, especially on the feet they are difficult to apply and time-consuming treatments.
- Cryotherapy consists of freezing the outer layer of the skin. Paring down of the skin is sometimes required. The treatment needs to be repeated every 3-4 weeks until the wart resolves. Sometimes gels are used in between freezing treatments.
- Electrosurgery. A local anaesthetic injection is given and the wart is curetted and the base treated with cautery( heat ). Needling of the wart can be done at the same time.
- If the wart is resistant to all previous treatment removal by surgery may be considered. A small ellipse of skin is removed around the wart. Stitches are required and with all surgical procedures there would be a scar remaining.
- Immune therapy involves application of a cream that stimulates the immune system. The medication causes the body to produce cytokines which help fight the virus. These creams are not used routinely and only in resistant cases as they can cause an inflammatory reaction in the surrounding skin and can leave a scar.
If you would like to see a doctor about it do get in touch and we will arrange we see that you receive best treatment for you.