Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

A flesh-colored growth characterized by circumscribed hypertrophy of the papillae of the corium, with thickening of the malpighian, granular, and keratin layers of the epidermis, caused by human papilloma virus [HPV]; also applied to epidermal verrucous tumors of non-viral etiology. It usually occurs on the soles of the feet. A survey by The US reports it prevalence of about 10-15 % in adults of 25-34 years of age.


Verrucae are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). This virus is very contagious, but can only be caught by direct contact. It thrives in warm, moist environments such as swimming pools, changing room floors and bathrooms. So if an infected barefoot walks across the poolside, it may release virus-infected cells onto the floor. If you then walk on the same floor, you can pick the virus up, especially if you have any small or invisible cuts and abrasions that make it even easier for the virus to penetrate. You could also catch the virus from an infected towel.

Verrucae are transmitted by direct contact or indirect contact (e.g., public showers or swimming pool areas). They can be transmitted to one's self or others. Picking or scratching at warts can increase the risk of transmission. Trauma may play a role in the development of warts as they often occur at pressure points, for example, on the bottom of the foot.

They are harmless. However, they can cause a sharp, burning pain if you get one on a weight-bearing area such as the ball or the heel of the foot. Because you are constantly pressing on the area when walking, they can protrude into the skin and become more painful.

When you have verrucae on a non-weight-bearing surface (such as on the top of the foot or on the toes), they protrude above skin level, tend to be fleshier and cause less pain.


Symptoms may include:

    Small, bumpy growths on the soles of the feet, often with a tiny black dot, or dots, on the surface.

  • Pain in the soles of the feet when standing or walking.


If you are worried about your verrucae visit your GP. He or she will ask you about your symptoms and examine you. He or she may also ask you about your medical history. Your GP will try to diagnose which type of verrucae you have by its appearance. Your GP may recommend a blood test which is very essential in order to diagnose other conditions, which may be a contributing factor.


In short, you can treat your verrucae with an over-the-counter medicine unless you have diabetes or circulation problems. Preparations containing salicylic acid in varying amounts may be applied daily to the verrucae as a solution or paint (eg, Duofilm®, Occlusal®, Salactol®), a gel (eg, Bazuka Extra Strength®, Cuplex®, Salatac®) or in the form of impregnated discs or pads (eg, Verrugon®).

If you do however, or find that the verrucae appears to be getting bigger, consult a physician and podiatrist.

Other treatment options:

    Cryotherapy: This involves freezing warts off with liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide gas. This needs to be done every 2 or 3 weeks for a few months before the verrucae is fully removed. However, it can lead to soreness and blistering in some people. You can still swim after this treatment, but it is not advised for sensitive or anxious children.

  • Electrosurgery: After a local anesthetic, the verrucae are pared down. An electric needle is then placed in the middle of the wart for a few seconds until the wart boils - the verrucae is then scooped out.

  • Excisional surgery similar to above, but using a scalpel.

  • Laser surgery: Lasers are sometimes used to kill the virus. This is useful for treating portions of large verrucae at a time.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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