Warts and verrucae are caused by a fungal infection of the skin.

Warts can occur in children and adults, however are more common in children between 12-16 years due to higher exposure to the virus in schools and sports facilities. They can occur singly or in clusters. Warts appear as small, hardened, raised areas of skin, often with a cauliflower-like appearance, but don't normally cause any pain. They often have one or more black dots in the centre. They typically occur on the palms, back of the hands and fingers. Once immunity to the infecting virus is sufficiently high, the wart will disappear, but this can take anything up to 2 years, so most patients don't want to wait that long and seek treatment for cosmetic reasons. Treatment for a wart can take anything from 6-12 weeks.

Verrucae or plantar warts occur on the soles of the foot and have a different appearance to warts elsewhere on the body because the pressure from the body's weight pushes the wart inwards, eventually producing pain when weight is applied during walking. Verrucae are caused by the same virus and often have a black dot in the centre. They can sometimes form clusters called mosaic verrucae. Verrucae are very contagious and easily picked up from floors of changing rooms, especially if the floor is wet. They can take a long time to go of their own accord, anything form 6-12 months. As we get older we become immune to the verrucae virus which is why they are more common in young children.

Treatment of warts and verrucae aims to reduce the size of the lesions by gradual destruction of the skin. Continuous application of a selected preparation for several weeks or months may be necessary to achieve the desired result. When applying a product during treatment, the surrounding healthy skin should be protected with padding or white soft paraffin (Vaseline) to stop it damaging the skin.

Acid treatment: One of the most common ingredients in wart treatments is salicylic acid but glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde and lactic acid are also used. They act by softening and destroying the skin and are available in a variety of strengths and formulations. Treatment containing salicylic acid should be applied daily and is helped by prior soaking of the affected hand or foot in warm water for 5-10 minutes to soften and hydrate the skin, increasing the action of the salicylic acid. Removal of dead skin from the surface of the wart or verrucae by gentle rubbing with a pumice stone or emery board ensures the next application reaches the surface of the lesion. The healthy skin should be protected by using some Vaseline while the product is being applied. The product should be allowed to dry completely, and if required, covered with a protective plaster. Emery boards or pumice stones should not be shared with anyone else as this can spread the virus to others.

Freezing Kits: A cold spray containing a mixture of dimethyl ether and propane, is available over the counter to treat warts and verrucae. It freezes them to the core causing the lesion to fall off within 10-14 days after a single treatment. It is important to read the instructions very carefully for this method of treatment.
Visit your pharmacist or doctor:
  • If the patient is diabetic (people who suffer from diabetes should NOT use any over the counter product on their feet or hands without first seeing their doctor. This is because people with high blood glucose levels can have mild to severe nerve damage called "sensory diabetic neuropathy", meaning they lose the feeling in their hands and feet. Using hand or foot treatments may damage the patient further without them realising it.
  • If the wart has changed size or colour
  • If the wart is bleeding and/or itchy
  • If the wart is on any other part of the body except hands or feet
  • If the patient has used a product continuously for 3 months with no improvement
Helpful Tips from Mulligans Pharmacy:
  • At Mulligans Pharmacy, we understand that our customers may need treatment for symptoms of a personal or sensitive nature. Our pharmacists are always available for a discreet chat in our private consultation room at your request, or you can ask a Mulligans Pharmacist a question in confidence here.
  • Warts are contagious so customers should not share towels during treatment
  • Patients should wear protective socks and footwear if they swim during treatment
  • Warts and verrucae treatments should not be used on any other part of the body
  • A long period of treatment will be required, and instant results should not be expected. Try to persevere with the treatment for at least 12 weeks
  • It is very important to protect the healthy skin around a wart or verruca when using treatments. i.e. applying Vaseline before applying the treatment.
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The information provided is intended solely as a guide. Please seek the advice of your pharmacist to determine whether a particular service, medication, or treatment programme will be of value to you. Always check the dosage directions carefully on all medicines. Never combine medicines without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. All health facts and information contained herein should not be a substitute for medical advice. The use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions.
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