A verruca is another name for a plantar wart which is a wart that grows on the sole of your foot. It is a viral infection, similar to the virus that forms warts on other parts of the body. The verruca virus is usually caught as a result of contact with infected skin from other people with the virus. This is why they are frequently a result of walking barefoot in public areas, such as gymnasiums and swimming pools, especially when there are small tears in the surface of the foot which allow the virus to enter. They may occur singly or in clusters.
These warts occur by infecting the top layers of the skin on the sole of the foot, causing the layers to thicken. This thickening eventually causes pain as the most commonly affected areas of the feet are those that bear your weight. The pain feels similar to walking on a stone. You can tell the difference between a corn and a verruca because the skin over a verruca does not have the usual skin ridges of normal skin which sit over corns.
Often a verruca will disappear with little or no treatment, however if the verruca is causing pain then it should be treated. Successful removal of these warts may take some time. They can also cause scarring if the verruca needs to be surgically removed or frozen off.
The usual treatment for a verruca involves special plasters or applications that remove the infection by burning it off over time. You can also use spray ‘freezing’ preparations that burn off the verruca. These treatments need to be repeated several times to ensure the virus affected skin has been eradicated. You will need to leave periods of time between treatments to allow for healing. Care must be taken to protect the surrounding skin as the treatments will affect all areas applied to, causing further pain and injury.
Do not attempt to cut out verrucas yourself. If you are intending to use public shower spaces then do not go barefoot. If you do not have verrucas then use rubber footwear instead of going barefoot, especially in public showers. If you do have verrucas, then cover them with waterproof plasters if going into public places where you need to be barefooted. This will prevent the spread of an infection.
All of the treatments mentioned above are available from your community pharmacist. Your pharmacist can give you advice and preparations to protect the surrounding skin, and to relieve pressure from walking on verruca affected feet. If warranted, your pharmacist will refer you to your doctor or a podiatrist for more drastic methods of verruca removal, for example if large areas of your feet are affected by this painful condition, or if previous treatment has been unsuccessful.