Verrucae: Causes and Treatments

  • By Judith Sullivan
  • 28 Mar, 2017
By Author/Blogger Reggie Simpson
01 Dec 2015

Caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

You may have experienced a verruca at some point during your life, or maybe you currently have one you’re looking to remove. If so, perhaps you’re wondering what exactly it is, why it occurred and how they can be easily treated. Read on to learn more about the causes and treatments of verrucae and when to seek further advice.

What exactly is a verruca?

A verruca, sometimes referred to as a ‘plantar wart’, is a wart that develops on the body’s plantar surfaces – the soles of your feet.  It is often the case that the pressure of walking or standing for long periods pushes the warts into the skin, causing painful bumps on the surface.  They can appear either alone, or in a cluster – which are known as mosaic warts.

What are the symptoms of verrucae?

The symptoms of verrucae are easy to spot. You’ll notice a small growth on the foot, which will often have small black or darkened dots on its surface.  You may also feel pain whilst putting pressure on your feet.

How can a verruca be treated?

The treatment you choose for your verrucae will depend on their severity, as well as your own personal pain tolerance.

Verrucae will usually go away on their own as a result of the body’s natural immune system, so if you find them to be unnoticeable, you may consider simply waiting it out.

However, if  verrucae are affecting your day to day life, it’s important to sort them. There are a number of over the counter remedies available; however, there is no single miracle cure that will work every time, so a little trial and error is to be expected.

How can verrucae be prevented?

Prevention is simpler than the cure, so it’s worth taking the steps to avoid their development:

•   Keep your feet protected when visiting communal changing rooms or pools.

•   Don’t touch other peoples’ verrucae.

•   Don’t share towels with people who have verrucae.

•   Don’t pick at your verruca as you may encourage the virus to spread.

•   Wear clean socks daily and keep your feet dry.

When should I seek the advice of a professional?

Verrucae are viral in nature, so in most cases, the body will take care of it on its own. However, if you’re continuing to experience verrucae on a regular basis, it’s possible to have them treated with cryosurgery or needling. A professional will also be able to take a look at underlying issues that have made verrucae unresponsive to your previous at-home treatments.

If you’ve tried over the counter solutions only to find them to be ineffective, it may be time to visit a professional for further evaluation and treatment.

If you’re concerned about verrucae or any other foot-related issue, a trained podiatrist can help. Get in touch with Betafeet Podiatry and book an appointment today to ensure your foot problems are diagnosed and treated in good time.

By Judith Sullivan 18 Jul, 2017
Andre was an associate podiatrist at Betafeet for five months.  His contributions to the practice were considerable.  Sadly we lost him to a higher professional and personal calling.

After a stellar educational background and career, Andre joined babylon Healthcare Services, UK based, with a view to helping them set up and deliver the first digital healthcare pilot services to the NHS.   Digital healthcare is a cluster of new and emerging applications and technologies that exploit digital, mobile and cloud platforms for treating and supporting patients. Digital Healthcare is being applied to a  wide range of social and health problems, ranging from monitoring patients in intensive care, general wards, in convalescence or at home – to helping doctors make better and more accurate diagnoses, improving drugs prescription and referral decisions for clinical treatment.

Rwanda then beckoned.

Since joining babylon Rwanda in April 2016, Andre has been instrumental in successfully setting up and launching Africa's fastest growing digital healthcare service.  According to Lindsey McConaghy, babylon's PR manager, 'Rwanda has a population of around 12 million but doctor numbers are in the hundreds. There’s an imbalance between supply and demand'.  

Digital Healthcare is not without its sceptics nor controversies - at what point do you let an app do the diagnosis?  Will GPs embrace technology in this way?

Here is Andre's report about his experiences in Rwanda:  

Rwanda is a small ambitious country known as the land of 1000 hills with a population around 12 million and a rapidly growing economy. It has rolling hills for as far as you can see, a rain forest, gorillas and volcanoes, making for quite the site to any visitor. However, it is also known for the 1994 genocide in which over 1 million people were killed in 100 days across the country.

This tragic event has led to some very big health issues, which the country still faces, but thanks to a range of donor funding and strong political leadership, the country is on its way to quickly becoming a middle-income country.

As countries shift from low incomes to middle income economies, health issues become complex, where the country can face a mix of communicable disease (ie. malaria, HIV, TB) and the introduction of non-communicable disease (ie. diabetes, high BP, cholesterol) with changes in lifestyles.

Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with podiatry?

Well, as clinicians we play a role in the overall wellbeing of every patient that walks through our door for treatment and we become advocates for a number public health issues. While our specialist area is focused on the foot and ankle, an understanding of the bodily systems is imperative for understanding the impacts on the lower limb. This allows us to transition from clinical practice to other work streams such as health policy, public health programmes, service management and research.

As a podiatrist with a public health background, the increase of diabetes and chronic conditions in developing nations has become of personal interest. In many of these countries, diabetes is poorly understood and without proper prevention and care, can lead to a large economic burdens on the healthcare system. In 2012, the UK alone spent a whopping £639 million on foot ulcers and £662 on lower limb amputations, so the prevention and monitoring of these conditions is of paramount importance in the developing world.

The quality of life for individuals with diabetes is also drastically affected if not controlled, impacting mobility, footwear and overall lifestyle. Additionally, chronic ulceration and limb amputation, creates an increases risk (approximately 80%) of mortality within the first 5 years post amputation.

How did all this lead me to Africa, I hear you say?

In April of 2016, I (sadly) departed from the Betafeet clinic to implement an mhealth project in Rwanda in partnership with the Ministry of Health. This project, allows patients across the country to speak with a doctor and receive a prescription via SMS through their mobile phone, reducing the travel time, wait time and expense of receiving care from one of the local physical hospitals. The system is also working on monitoring both communicable and non-communicable disease using artificial intelligence, engaging patients to take ownership of their health.

This could be a major milestone for a country with stretched resources. To put things into perspective, over 80% of the population lives in remote areas of the country and works in the ‘in-formal’ sector as subsistence farmers with an average income of 2-3 dollars per day, which is not very much. To receive care, a patient may travel over an hour to reach their nearest hospital where a doctor is present and then wait anywhere from a few hours to a few days to receive the care they need. However almost 80% of the population already has a mobile phone.

Appropriate access to clinical care is a large part of the prevention and management of many conditions and undertaking this project has been a great experience. As a clinician, I have had the opportunity to utilise my knowledge to develop operational pathways and input into the technology development to shape the way patients receive their care. 


It is with this experience I now look to move on to my next adventure focusing on Aboriginals and the utilisation of technology in the prevention of major non communicable disease such as diabetes.

Final comment from Reggie Simpson and Betafeet Podiatry

 We wish Andre the very best in his future and thank him for this interesting blog account.  We look forward to his next blog focused on his work with the Aboriginal population.  

By Judith Sullivan 12 Jun, 2017
By Reggie Simpson
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