Warts and Veruccas
Warts and veruccas are caused by an infection of the skin cells by a virus called HPV (human papilloma virus). The virus causes the skin cells to divide too fast, leading to a heaped up mound of hard skin. On the sole of the foot this is known as a verucca and on the rest of the body a number of different wart types occur.
What are the Different Types of Warts That Occur?
Plane warts usually occur on the face and are often quite flat and quite numerous. Common warts occur typically on the hands and body and are often raised round and firm. Periungual warts occur under and around the nails. Filiform warts are often small but tall, with finger-like projections. Genital warts occur commonly in both sexes.
What treatments are available for Warts and Veruccas?
Dermatologists are very experienced in the management of viral warts and in particular in undertaking cryotherapy, a specialised liquid nitrogen freezing treatment. Effective cryotherapy relies on experience, because treatment needs to be adjusted depending on body site, wart type and skin pigmentation type. Too little freeze is ineffective because the base of the wart does not reach the right temperature. Too long a freeze causes an increased risk of side effects. Side effects such as temporary redness, discomfort, and blister formation often occur with effective levels of treatment. Scarring and pigment change occurs rarely. Repeated freezing treatmentsa few weeks apart are often required.
What other Treatments Are Available?
Nightly treatment with topical wart paints containing salicylic acid can also be effective and a dermatologist can recommend the strength of salicylic acid treatment required and discuss its application with you.
Dermatologists may also recommend surgical treatments under local anaesthetic or application of cantharadine-containing medication- an effective topical treatment derived from a beetle toxin, which causes a blister to form around the wart about 24 hours after application of liquid under a plaster. This can be highly effective for very longstanding warts that have resisted other treatments.