Warts and Verrucas

Warts and Verrucas

What are warts?

Warts are small bumps usually found on the hands or feet. They are caused by a viral infection in the skin.

Warts are benign (non-cancerous).

What is the difference between a wart and a verruca?

A verruca is a wart. However when warts are found on the feet, they are referred to as verrucas.

Verrucas are also known as plantar warts.

What do warts and verrucas look like?

Warts are usually skin coloured and have a rough texture. They are cauliflower shaped. Warts are often found on the hands, around the nails or on the fingers. However they can appear anywhere on the body.

Verrucas (foot warts) are most commonly found where the foot is exposed to pressure, for example, on the ball of the foot. They can be painful because of the constant pressure on them caused by standing and walking.

Verrucas tend to appear flat with thick skin. They usually have a hard edge around a softer centre. Sometimes black spots can be seen inside the warts. These are caused by bleeding in the verruca as a result of pressure caused by standing and walking on them. They can look quite similar to corns.

Are warts contagious?

Yes. Warts can be very contagious. Even touching a wart can release the virus that caused it. This virus can then infect other parts of the person or other people.

Warts can be easily spread among children because they find it particularly difficult not to touch or pull at them.

A person can get a wart indirectly, for example, from walking on a contaminated floor.

Verrucas are often associated with swimming pools. When a person with verrucas walks in their bare feet, the virus that caused it is released onto the floor. If other people then walk on this, they may become infected. A person who has any kind of cut or scratches on their feet is particularly vulnerable to verrucas.

Does everybody have the same chance of developing warts or verrucas?

No. When people are exposed to the wart virus, some develop warts or verrucas, while others seem immune to them. It is not known why some people are more susceptible to warts than others.

How long does it take for a wart to develop?

It can take months for warts to develop after the initial infection.

What should I do if I have a wart or a verruca?

If you have a verruca, visit your doctor to find out what the best course of treatment is. Verrucas, whether a cluster or just one, can be very painful and may require treatment to stop them spreading. Children who have verrucas can find that, like warts, they may spontaneously disappear over time. If treatment is not necessary, they can be covered for activities such as swimming. Ask your GP whether treatment is adviseable.

Warts do not always need medical treatment because they are benign and many of them spontaneously disappear after one or two years. However that is a long time to have a wart. Therefore you may want to seek medical advice about them, especially if they start to spread.

Can warts recur?

Yes. Warts can go away by themselves, only to come back at a later time. Even if they are medically treated, they can return. Sometimes they don't return until years later.

Back to top of page