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What is a Verruca?

May 27, 2023 3 mins

Learn what a verruca is, the different types of verruca and verruca treatment with Wart-Off range.

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children kicking water at pool

Verrucas, known commonly as warts, are caused by different strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV). When HPV is active in the human skin it can cause a build up of the protein keratin to form on the skin’s surface, creating a wart or verruca. Warts or verrucae can present differently on different parts of the body, such as the hands, knees, and soles of the feet. 

Types of Verruca

Verruca vulgaris: common warts which can develop individually or in clusters. Most typically occur on the hands, fingers and knees. 

Verruca plantaris/pedis: plantar warts which develop on the pressure points on the underside of the feet. 

Verruca filiformis: resemble a long, thin thread and tend to present on the neck and face, particularly around the eyes, nose and mouth.

Verruca plana: also known as flat warts, verruca plana are typically yellow in colour, smooth, round and flat. They tend to occur in certain areas including the neck, face, hands and knees. They can occur individually or in large clusters on the body. 

Other types of warts or verruca exist, including periungual warts (which grow under or around fingernails and toenails) and mosaic warts (which grow in a tile-like pattern on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet).

Verruca Vulgaris vs. Verruca Pedis

Verruca vulgaris is the scientific name for what is referred to as the common wart. Verruca vulgaris are usually round or oval shaped, raised form the skin and have a firm, rough (cauliflower-like) texture. They can vary in size from around 1mm up to 1cm in diameter.

Verruca vulgaris most commonly affects certain parts of the body including the knees, fingers and knuckles of the hand, although they can also present on other areas of the body. 

Verruca plantaris or pedis are commonly referred to as plantar warts, which tend to develop on the heels, balls of the feet and underside of the toes, which are pressure points when standing and walking. 

Verruca plantaris are caused by the same virus as verruca vulgaris, although they develop differently due to their location on the body. 

Plantar warts are often flat with a layer of hard, calloused skin on the surface because they flattened by walking and standing. They are generally white to yellow in colour, with several black dots in the centre. They can be uncomfortable and painful when bearing weight on the feet. For more information about this type of wart, read our article about plantar warts.

Stopping the Spread

HPV is a highly contagious virus and is spread from direct contact with another person who has the virus or indirectly through contaminated surfaces. The virus thrives in warm, humid places such as public swimming pools, gyms, and locker rooms. HPV is transmitted by direct contact and can occur more easily if there is a cut, crack or opening in the skin. 

Verruca or Blister?

Verrucas and blisters can have similar appearances, especially in the early stages of a verruca when it may be small and raised. 

Certain types of warts such as verruca plana, or flat warts, may appear somewhat similar to a blister. For example, flat warts may be yellowish, brown or grey in colour and tend to have a somewhat rough, grainy appearance and texture. Flat warts can occur on any part of the body, but are most prevalent on the hands, knees, neck and face.

Blisters are small pockets of fluid that form on the surface of the skin. They are typically caused by friction, but can also occur as a result of burns, insect bites, and allergic reactions. Blisters can become filled with blood or even pus if they become infected. They can be painful or itchy.

If you are uncertain whether you have a verruca or blister, it may be a good idea to consult with your doctor who will be able to provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Verruca or Corn?

A verruca and a corn can also have a similar appearance, although the causes and treatments required are very different.

Plantar warts typically have a rough, grainy appearance and have several tiny black specks in the centre caused by blood vessels.

A corn is a small, thickened patch of skin on the foot that forms as a response to repeated pressure or friction. Corns typically occur on the toes or soles of the feet and can be painful to touch. They often have a hard centre and can be surrounded by inflamed skin.

If you’re unsure if you have a plantar wart or a corn, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider who can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. A biopsy may be necessary in order to confirm diagnosis.

How to Get Rid of Verrucas?

Thankfully, there are a number of common and effective treatment options for verrucas including:

Topical treatments: first line treatments for verrucas include topical treatments such as Wart-Off Paint and Wart-Off Stick which contain salicylic acid, which works by dissolving the wart’s outer layer. Consistency is key in order to effective topical treatment of verrucas.

Cryotherapy: the verruca is frozen to kill the virus and destroy the wart. The treatment can be done in a doctor’s office using liquid nitrogen, or at home using an over the counter device such as Wart-Off Freeze Spray that contains dimethyl ether (DME). Read our article on wart removal with Wart-Off Freeze to find out more.

Laser treatment and surgical removal: these treatments are performed by medical professionals and involves using a laser to destroy the wart or surgical removal of the wart. It is generally reserved for large or particularly stubborn verrucas.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

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