What is a verruca?
Verrucas are warts on the foot, or 'plantar warts'. You could call any wart a verruca, but people usually use the term 'verruca' specifically to mean a wart on the sole of the foot.
What causes verrucas?
Verrucas are caused by an infection of the skin by a virus called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is highly contagious. The viral infection is spread through skin contact with contaminated surfaces.
We are especially prone if our immune system is weakened – if we’re tired or run down, for example.
We’re also prone if the skin on our feet is damaged by cuts or scratches and comes into contact with rough surfaces contaminated with the virus.
This explains why people often catch verrucas in communal changing areas, like those at swimming pools and gym clubs. Children between the ages of 12 and 16 who frequently engage in contact games and group activities in these kind of environments are particularly prone1,2.
Virus-infected skin cells are shed onto the floor and passed onto others walking over the same area. If someone has a verruca, the virus can spread to other parts of his or her body as well as to other people.
Verrucas tend to appear on weight-bearing areas such as the ball of the foot, making them particularly uncomfortable and quite painful to walk on. In addition, verrucas can be more painful when you wear tight fitting shoes.
Things to know about verrucas.
Verrucas may go away by themselves eventually, but this can take quite a while, and there is always the risk of spreading them to others or getting more yourself because they are contagious. So it is best to treat your or your family’s verrucas as soon as they first appear.
The longer verrucas and warts are left untreated, the harder they can be to remove, so if you have children, their hands and feet in particular should be checked regularly.
Next: Warts >
1 Cobb, M.W. (1990) Human papillomavirus infection, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 22(4), 547-566
2 Sterling, J.C and Kurtz, J.B. (1998) Viral Infections. In: Champion, R.H. Burton, J.L, Burns, D.A and Breathnach, S.M. (Eds.) Textbook of dermatology. 6th edn. Oxford: Blackwell Science. 995-1096