Verruca are warts found on or around the toes and the soles of the feet. Podiatrists have treatments for this common viral skin infection, which are otherwise unavailable.
A verruca is the result of an infection from certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). It appears like a small, dark, puncture mark later turning grey or brown. It may become rough and bumpy with a cauliflower-like appearance. It can also develop a black spot in the middle, as the result of bleeding. A verruca can grow in diameter and may spread into a cluster.
Verruca are harmless and will spontaneously heal over time without treatment, but may also persist for years. However, if they are bothering you or causing pain, there are things that can be done.
Verruca are typically painless, but the disruption they cause to the skin if one develops on a weight-bearing area such as the ball or the heel of the foot, can cause a sharp, burning pain. The pressure of weight bearing can cause the resulting hard skin to protrude painfully into the skin.
Many treatments, such as creams, gels, paints and medicated plasters, are available over-the-counter from pharmacies. These are not as strong as the products made available to podiatrists and from our experience don’t have a very high success rate.
Our podiatrist will treat your verruca with Swift Microwave Therapy. The treatment quickly raises the temperature within the skin, without breaking the surface – meaning no blisters, no padding, and no scarring. It is not uncommon for patients to feel a sharp sensation, similar to an injection, but unlike most treatments for verruca, pain felt during the treatment quickly subsides.
Your second treatment for Swift will usually occur 4 weeks later. Some patients will see black spots appear beneath the surface of the skin after the 1st treatment, but the size of the lesion may remain the same. The Swift treatment works by reducing the depth, rather than the width. Your podiatrist will provide advice on what to expect, but patients report a similar sensation to their 1st treatment.
Of the patients who will resolve, 93% will resolve after this final treatment. Your podiatrist will provide specific advice based on your individual condition.
Your podiatrist will usually leave a gap of 12 weeks for the body to heal and cycle through the immune response. You should feel little to no pain from the verruca at this stage, and your normal skin should be returning where the verruca was.
The most effective treatment is Microwave therapy
This breakthrough treatment for stubborn verruca is available here at The Nantwich Clinic and has an 80% plus success rate with 3-4 applications. After an application of microwave therapy, in some cases the area may feel sore but generally a patient can continue life as normal, head off for a swim or jump in the shower as the therapy works internally and does not normally affect the surface of the skin.
Like other treatments for verrucas, some minor discomfort may be experienced with microwave therapy. Before treatment, the podiatrist may decide to reduce the verruca with a blade.
Microwave energy is delivered directly to the site of the verruca using a hand-held probe. It sends microwaves to a precise and predetermined depth, leaving surrounding tissue undamaged. It targets water molecules within the skin, creating heat. This activates an immune response, which destroys the infected cells.
Pain levels vary from person to person, but most people undergoing microwave therapy liken it to a pain similar to an injection or a scratch, lasting 2 – 3 seconds then quickly subsiding.
Swift Microwave Therapy
Simple, effective and Swift…
The key to effectively treating a verruca is to trigger the body’s own immune response, rather than simply destroying the infected tissue. Independent clinical research has shown that microwave verruca treatment with Swift activates immune signalling pathways in the body, alerting the immune system to the presence of the verruca and clearing the infected tissue.
This independent clinical research was published in the ‘European Journal of Dermatology’. Read the full paper, including the research on immune pathways here.
It has been shown that acid is effective at treating a verruca. However, acids are not selective and also destroy the surrounding healthy skin, so it is important to have the treatment professionally applied, particularly if you are vulnerable or high risk.
Before applying the treatment, excess skin around the affected area should be reduced in order to improve its efficacy. Patients should follow the instructions given by the practitioner or those given in an over the counter product, which is to keep the area dry and not remove the dressing for 48 hours. If the dressing comes off the acid could burn soft furnishings or your fingers, should you touch it.
This treatment can be uncomfortable, cause mild pain, blistering and skin irritation around the verruca. Applications are usually necessary every fortnight for an average of 12 weeks.
When using any acid product you should stop the treatment if your skin becomes sore and seek advice from a professional. You should also seek advice before using a product like this if you have poor circulation. For example, if you have a condition such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease, there is an increased risk of damage to your skin, nerves and tendons.
This involves using nitrous oxide to freeze the verruca, causing the cells to die. Again, this can take a number of applications before resulting in success. This treatment can be uncomfortable, cause mild pain, blistering and skin irritation around the verruca.
Success rates of treatments (statistics taken from ‘The College of Podiatry’ 2017)
Microwave therapy: 80%
No single treatment for verrucas is 100% effective, and sometimes the verruca may return.