Verrucas – symptoms, treatments and prevention

What are verrucas? And can you deal with them when your child has them?

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What are they?

Verrucas come from the family of warts, of which there are many types. Warts come from a viral infection called the human papiloma virus or HPV, which causes keratin, a hard protein in the top layer of the skin, to grow too much. This produces the rough texture and small lump on the skin of a wart.

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Verrucas are specifically a type of wart that appears on the sole of the foot. They are usually white and circular and often have a black dot in the centre, but they aren’t raised like other types of warts. Sometimes they can be painful, due to the weight of the body pushing down on the foot, which can force them to grow back into the skin.

How common are verrucas?

Verrucas are extremely common and most people will have them at some point during their life. According to the NHS, 4% to 5% of children in the UK have warts.

Are they contagious?

Yes. The skin cells in warts, or verrucas, release thousands of viruses. You may find that during the school term, your child will come into contact with this infection more than once as it is passed through skin contact, as well as through objects. Children with scratches or cuts on the soles of their feet are particularly venerable to verrucas, especially when your child starts to swim. This is because the virus can be passed easily through towels and the swimming pool surfaces.

It may take weeks or months for a verruca to appear after your child has caught the infection.

Do you need to take your child to the doctor?

If you’re unsure what type of wart your child has, then see your doctor, as they will be able to diagnose what type of wart it is from its appearance and position. However, if you’re familiar with verrucas and know that is what your child has, then there’s no need to go to the doctor.

Should your child go to school?

Yes. There’s no need for your child to take time off from school when they have a verruca, however you should make sure that your child doesn’t walk bare foot to stop the infection from spreading. Cover the verrucas up with waterproof plasters or a special verruca sock, which you can get from your local pharmacy, for the occasions when your child is expected to go bare foot.

Most verrucas clear up without treatment and according to the NHS warts will clear up within two years in 65% to 80% of cases.

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What else may your child come into contact with during school?

Other infections like tonsillitischickenpox, impetigo, molluscum contagiosum, threadworms, ear infections, ringworm, diarrhoea and vomiting are also common for your child to catch during school.

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