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Verrucas: Much More Than Something You Catch At Swimming Pools

Updated: Feb 21

To the majority of people, verrucas are most likely associated with swimming pools. We all remember being told to be careful and not walk barefoot in the pool changing areas. The reality is, they are such a common foot complaint  that can affect individuals of all ages, and most importantly - they’re not exclusive to swimming pools. 

Whilst verrucas are generally harmless, they can be uncomfortable and unsightly, as well as contagious, prompting individuals to seek treatment. In this guide, we will explore what verrucas are, their causes, effective treatments, and strategies for prevention.

What Exactly Are Verrucas?

Verrucas are skin growths that appear on the feet, ankles and toes. They are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which enters the body through small cuts or breaks in the skin. Once inside the body, the virus triggers the rapid growth of cells on the outer layer of the skin, leading to the formation of a verruca. The human papillomavirus is the same viral element that causes cold sores, which may appear on the lips, and warts, which can appear  anywhere on the body but are most common between the fingers.

These growths often have a rough, grainy texture and may appear flat or raised. Verrucas typically may develop tiny black dots in the centre, which are small blood vessels that are feeding off the viral elements..

It’s important to know that verrucas are viral infections, and treatment is essential to stop the infection from spreading to others.

What Causes Verrucas?

Several factors can increase the risk of developing verrucas, including:

1. Direct contact: verrucas are highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with an infected surface or person. As previously mentioned, this commonly occurs in shared public spaces such as swimming pools, gym locker rooms, and communal showers.

2. Weakened immune system: those with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to developing verrucas.

3. Walking barefoot: walking barefoot in public places (not just pool and gym changing rooms!) increases the risk of coming into contact with the virus, making individuals more prone to developing verrucas.

How To Treat Verrucas

While verrucas may resolve on their own over time, many individuals seek treatment to alleviate discomfort and accelerate eradication of the virus..

At The Footlift London clinic we remove the dead skin with a sterile scalpel and use cryotherapy to freeze the tissue. This aims to traumatise the area and will allow the immune system to kick in and fight the infection. Sometimes more than one session of this may be required. If this treatment still doesn’t eliminate the virus, more invasive treatments involving 70% salicylic acid and deeper surgical removals may be necessary.

It is recommended to speak with a Podiatrist or healthcare professional for appropriate treatment. 

How To Prevent Verrucas

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of developing verrucas, there are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of contamination:

1. Practise good hygiene: wash your feet regularly with soap and water, especially after visiting public spaces such as swimming pools or locker rooms. Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent the growth of bacteria and viruses.

2. Wear protective footwear: avoid walking barefoot in public areas, especially in warm, moist environments where the HPV virus thrives. Wear flip-flops or sandals in communal showers and locker rooms to reduce the risk of exposure and wipe wipeable sandals with an antibacterial dettol household wipe.

3. Avoid sharing personal items: do not share towels, socks, shoes, or other personal items with individuals who have verrucas. This can help prevent the spread of the virus to unaffected individuals.

4. Boost immune function: maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate sleep to support your immune system's ability to fight off infections.

5. Seek prompt treatment: if you notice any unusual growths or changes in your skin, consult a Podiatrist or healthcare professional promptly. Early intervention can help prevent verrucas from spreading and becoming more difficult to treat.

Whilst verrucas are common and generally harmless, they are extremely contagious so should not be left untreated. There are several effective treatment options available, ranging from over-the-counter remedies to professional interventions, and it’s recommended to always keep verrucas covered with a plaster or dressing until they are fully healed. As with all healthcare, prevention is so important, so by practising good hygiene, wearing protective footwear, and seeking prompt treatment when necessary, you can reduce your risk of developing verrucas and maintain healthy feet.

If you think you have a verruca please book in with The Footlift London Clinic for a Medical Pedicure or The Footlift where our Podiatrist's

will be able to diagnose, treat and offer advice.

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