Foot warts (verrucae) are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) of which there are more than 100 different types. However there are generally only 4 main types that affect the feet and each one differs in size, pain, and appearance. Public understanding of viruses has come a long way due to Covid-19, including the acceptance that there is no quick fix for these infections and that different people experience different severity of symptoms and different treatment effectiveness. This is the same for verrucae and their treatments. As always in this series of articles, we will look at the costs involved:
Physical costs – Verrucas can hurt, especially if they are on a weightbearing area or somewhere that rubs on footwear. The HPV virus affects the skin and can cause the formation of hard callus over the lesion. This can make it feel like a corn which can make you walk abnormally to alleviate the pain, and this compensation can cause damage to other tissues near the corn or further away elsewhere in the body (eg knee, hip, lowback).
Emotional costs – People are often self-conscious about having a verruca. It can be unsightly, and that can worsen as it absorbs more water during showering / bathing. It can affect choice of footwear (eg avoidance of wearing sandals), choice of activities (eg not going swimming) and general self-esteem.
Financial costs – As a viral infection, our bodies are capable of resolving verrucae without any treatment. This process occurs more readily in childhood, but is still possible in adulthood. There are many different treatment options, none of which are guaranteed to resolve the problem but some have much higher success levels than others. Very few, if any, are available on the NHS. So here are guide prices for you:
tincture of time (£0)
occlusive taping (£5)
weak acids (£10)
strong acids (£30-£300*)
liquid nitrogen (£50-£500*)
Falknor’s needling (£200-£700*)
SWIFT microwave therapy (£100-£500*)
laser therapy (£150-£1000*)
electrosurgery / hyfrecation (£200+)
surgical excision (£400+).
*=depending on number of treatments required
Note that all treatment options may not be suitable for you, and that certain corns & skin cancers can look like verrucas and vica versa. So getting a professional diagnosis and suitable treatment plan for you from all of the above options is very important.
Jonathan Small, Lead Podiatrist, www.healthfirstsoutham.co.uk