Verruca Or Corn?: Spot the Difference and Treat Your Verruca Infection with Care
One of the most common problems people face with their feet is the development of warts and Verrucas on their feet. They’re extremely common in most children and young adults, with people having developed at least one at some point in their life. Verrucas, though they may sound fancy, are not pleasant at all. Verrucas are actually a type of wart and not just warts themselves, and are caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It’s very easy to confuse a Verruca for other ailments like corns and other types of warts, but Verrucas are very distinct if you know what to look for.
Identifying Verrucas on Feet
Chances are you’ve had a Verruca before and just confused it for a corn or a wart. But there are some key identifying factors when it comes to Verrucas which can help you single them out from all these other ailments. Verrucas are actually an infection caused by HPV and can be painful in comparison to normal warts or corns. They tend to form on the soles of your feet and may have tiny black dots in the centre, where blood has clotted in tiny vessels on the surface of your skin. They can be painful when you put weight on them, kind of like stepping on a needle. They also tend to look flat because of the constant pressure put on them. They even develop in clusters in some cases and can fuse together, forming “mosaic warts”. Which, again, sound super fancy, but definitely aren’t a piece you’d put up in an art exhibit. They’re actually kind of grotesque, but are totally normal.
To sum it up, you know it’s Verrucas on your feet when:
- There’s a black dot in the centre (in most cases)
- The “wart” is oddly cauliflower-shaped
- You feel a stinging “stepping-on-a-needle” type of pain when you apply pressure
- The lump is small and rough
You may have multiple on your hands and around your mouth as well (in the case of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, or HFM for short, which is common in most children)
Verruca or Corn?: SPOT the Difference:
Most people tend to confuse Verrucas for Corns. It’s a very common problem seen by Podiatrists everywhere. A lot of times, patients come in after “mistreatment” caused by the confusion. When you can’t tell if it’s a verruca or a corn, it’s probably best to see a medical professional (why not book an appointment with Bucks Foot Clinic?) before you treat it at home. The wrong treatment for the wrong lesion can sometimes even lead to more serious problems. So it’s best to know how to SPOT the difference between these spots.
So, how can you tell if it’s a verruca or corn? Here’s a simple breakdown!
- Verrucas are viruses (often called the Verruca Infection) caused by HPV. They are highly contagious (commonly seen when children with HFM Disease interact with other children on playgrounds). Corns, on the other hand (or foot!), are cone-shaped pieces of hard skin that form on areas of pressure. They are formed by friction and are not contagious.
- Verrucas aren’t picky. They see all feet as fit for infection. Corns, however, tend to form on dryer skin.
- Verrucas have a long incubation period that can range from a couple of months to a year. Corns tend to form over a long period of time from constant pressure and friction, while Verrucas seem to kind of just “show up” out of the blue.
- When you look closely, it’s easy to tell whether it’s a verruca or corn. Verruca infections tend to be sneaky and interrupt the striation (or lines) on your skin. Corns don’t do this; they’re quite out and proud.
- Verrucas on feet tend to have black dots in the centre where the blood has clotted on the surface of your skin. Corns don’t have these black dots.
- The skin on top of and around a Corn tends to be hard and thick, raising the skin. It can also give it a slightly yellow tone. Verrucas do not look as yellow and raised, they actually tend to be flatter because of the constant pressure put on them.
- Corns tend to have a conical, circular shadow to them, without any disruption of skin striations. Verrucas have an odd cauliflower-esque shape to them in comparison.
These are some of the key factors that set verrucas aside from corns. Now that you know whether it’s a verruca or corn that’s bugging you, it’ll be much easier to manage. Though it is best to see a Podiatrist rather than try to treat it on your own. Especially if it’s a verruca infection.
What Causes Verrucas?
Now that you know more about the Verruca infection, it’d do you good to understand where it comes from so you can prevent it from happening to you. Especially if you have children or young adults at home since they’re the most prone and the virus is extremely contagious.
Verrucas are caused by HPV. Verruca infections can spread from person to person via direct skin contact or even just contact with surfaces contaminated with the virus. You’re also more likely to get infected if your skin is damaged or wet, so swimming pools and communal showers tend to be a breeding ground for verruca infections. Apart from infecting (or being infected by) others, you can even further infect yourself by touching unaffected areas of your body. The viral particles tend to spread when you scratch a verruca. As with most viruses, your chances of developing verruca infections runs high if you have a weak immune system.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Verrucas:
If you’ve been affected by the verruca infection, you can help stop the spread by following these simple precautions:
- Wash your hands after touching the affected area
- Change your socks DAILY and maintain good foot hygiene
- Cover the affected area with a plaster when swimming
- Take care not to cut, open, or aggravate a verruca
- Avoid sharing towels, flannels, socks or shoes
- Try not to bite your nails or touch unaffected parts of your body after touching a verruca
- Don’t walk around barefoot in public places
Refrain from scratching or picking at your verruca
Treatment and Removal:
Most verrucas tend to go away on their own as long as you don’t further aggravate them or touch them too much. Maintaining proper foot hygiene is often more than enough to make them go away. But sometimes, when they’re pesky and persistent and decide to build base camp on your feet, you have to treat or maybe even remove them (only in dire cases).
The most commonly used treatments for verruca infections are salicylic acid and cryotherapy (sounds like some sort of crazy sci-fi treatment, but it’s just simple freezing).
- Salicylic Acid: There are many creams, gels and medicated plasters for treating warts and verrucas. You can buy these over-the-counter, but only do so if you’re sure it’s a verruca infection. Most of these contain salicylic acid which is a key ingredient in treating verruca infections. Be careful when applying these medications, and try to use as little as possible in surrounding areas because it can cause irritation to healthy skin. You can even protect the skin around the verruca infection with non-fragranced and natural petroleum jelly. Try not to get any of the treatment on broken skin. You can soften the area before-hand by soaking it in water and rubbing it to remove excess hard skin. Once dried, make sure to cover the affected area with a plaster. Apply the treatment according to your Podiatrist / Pharmacist’s advice.
Cryotherapy: This is the process of freezing your wart or verruca using liquid nitrogen so it falls off. Most pharmacists have OTC cryotherapy preparations that contain other gases, but these don’t normally work too well because they can’t freeze at temperatures as low as liquid nitrogen, which is why it’s better if you visit a Podiatrist to get this done (book an appointment with Bucks Foot Clinic today!). During cryotherapy, your doctor will apply the liquid nitrogen to your verruca using either a spray or a cotton bud. It usually takes between 5-30 seconds to freeze depending on the size and location and also the method used. You may have to repeat the treatment multiple times till the verruca or wart eventually falls off. Cryotherapy, however, hasn’t been shown to work any better than salicylic acid and can often lead to blisters and scarring that can be painful, which is why it’s not recommended for younger children.
When Should I See A Doctor? (Conclusion)
If your verruca persists and you’re concerned about it, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If the verruca is recurring and keeps coming back, or if it’s very large and painful and bleeds and changes how it looks, you should definitely see a doctor, specifically a Podiatrist. You can book an appointment with Bucks Foot Clinic and get the best treatment for verrucas on feet, infections, and more!