Read our guide to recognising the signs & symptoms of verrucas in children & find out more about the treatment options available
Warts on the soles of the feet are called verrucas. They’re quite common, as nearly one in three children or young people have them. They may be painful, but usually aren't harmful and generally clear up on their own.
If required, they can be removed more quickly with treatment. Treatment often involves using salicylic acid or freezing verrucas with liquid nitrogen or a cold spray.
What are the causes of verrucas?
Warts or verrucas are generally caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They don’t spread easily, but can be passed from one person to the next through close skin contact or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces, such as:
• Changing room floors
• Areas around swimming pools
• Socks, shoes and towels
The chance of infection increases if your child’s skin is wet or damaged. After becoming infected, it can take weeks or sometimes months for a verruca to appear.
What are the signs & symptoms of verrucas?
Verrucas can be uncomfortable, especially if they are on a weight bearing area of the foot. They’re often white, with a black dot in the middle, are usually flat rather than raised, and are generally found on the soles of the feet.
How are verrucas prevented?
Verrucas are caused by a virus and can be spread through close skin contact. Some ways to prevent your child from getting a verruca include making sure they:
• Don't share items such as towels, socks or shoes
• Wear flip-flops in changing rooms and on the poolside
If they have a verruca already, make sure your child avoids scratching or picking at a verruca, as that can worsen the problem. They should also:
• Avoid touching it and always wash their hands after doing so
• Change their socks every day
• Cover any verrucas with plasters if they're going swimming
How are verrucas treated?
Most verrucas will eventually clear up without treatment. About half of all children who have this type of wart will find they have disappeared within a year without treatment. The chance that a verruca will go away quickly is more common in children and young people. As treatment can be time-consuming and uncomfortable, it’s often best to simply let your child’s verruca heal on its own. It can be worth treating a verruca if it’s particularly painful or conspicuous.
Treatment options include over-the-counter treatments such as creams, gels, skin paints and medicated plasters containing salicylic acid. Cold sprays which can freeze the verruca are another over-the-counter option.
Your child’s doctor may also freeze the verruca so that it falls off a few weeks later. Sometimes this can take a few sessions.
When should you take your child to visit a GP for a verruca?
Take your child to seek advice from a GP if:
• Your child has many verrucas or gets them frequently
• Over-the-counter treatments haven’t worked
• A verruca spreads, bleeds, changes in appearance or causes significant pain, distress or embarrassment
• They have diabetes
• If your child has a verruca, ask your pharmacist about treatments such as salicylic acid
• If pharmacy treatments don’t work, or if the verruca is painful, take your child to visit a GP
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