What are Warts and Verrucas?
A wart is a contagious viral infection of the skin, usually taking the form of a small hard nodule, usually located on the hands and/or feet.
The wart itself is a cluster of your own skin cells that have been infected and transformed by the virus. The wart virus can be passed from one person to another and from site to site on the same person.
Some people’s immune systems can suppress the wart virus at the outset and in these people warts are not seen. In others the wart virus ‘hides’ from the immune system allowing them to develop into the lesions.
The wart virus cannot normally penetrate the skin and takes advantage of broken or macerated skin.
Most of all warts are on the fingers and hands. Warts commonly occur around fingernails, especially in children and can lead to a depression in the nail matrix, causing grooves to develop in the nails.
25-30 % of all wart virus infections are on the feet and appear as Verrucas.
These appear as round nodules, often with a small black pit at the surface. Because of the pressure exerted during walking, verrucas grow inwards rather than outwards.
Verrucas appear both singly and in groups (mosaic). They may be painful because of their depth – they can feel like a stone in the shoe and be deep enough to press on nerves in the foot.
If the blood supply to the verruca clots (thrombosis), the verruca can become very painful. However, without a blood supply the verruca will rapidly die off.
How can warts and Verrucas be treated?
1. Most infections are self-limiting and simply waiting will eventually work for most people.
2. Cryosurgery is sometimes used specially in children very successfully. The treatment involves liquid nitrogen to kill off the infected tissue. Usually multiple treatments at 2 to 3 week intervals are required .
3. Hyfercator – Electrocautery uses a small probe to accurately introduce an electric current into the wart material with the aim of cauterising the blood supply, sometime combined with curettage (scraping off the wart) with prior local anaesthetic injection to numb the area. This is often the treatment of choice for a single symptomatic wart.
4. Lasers that target haemoglobin can also be successful, as the laser can accurately target the blood supply to the wart without causing painful peripheral damage. The laser energy penetrates the wart material, heating up and sealing the blood supply so that the wart cannot survive.
We use all of the above techniques depending on type and distribution of the wart(s), and the patient’s age and preferences.
How much does it cost?
Up to 4 lesions : £200 1st session, £150 subsequent sessions
5 or more lesions : £250 1st session, £200 subsequent sessions