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A typical verruca

Verrucas are small corn-like skin lesions that are caused by localised infection by the human papiloma virus (HPV). They are a form of flattened wart refered to as a ‘plantar’ wart. They occur most commonly in the thick skin of the sole of the foot, and may occasionally be found on the fingers. HPV is transmissible by direct contact, or may be acquired by contact with an infected surface.

A verruca is typically paler than the surrounding skin and may have one or more black dots on the surface caused by abnormal blood capillaries. Where they occur in textured skin (the whorled patterns that occur on the feet and fingers) the pattern will be absent over the verruca (in a corn, the pattern will continue over the thickened skin). They tend not to extend very deeply but can be painful when squeezed, especially from the side.

Because they are viral in cause, verrucas can be difficult to eradicate. Conventionally they are treated with topical ointments containing salicylic acid (aspirin) such as ‘BazukaTM’ or Seal&HealTM’. Salicylic acid (and also trichloroacetic and lactic acids, which may also be employed) softens and degrades the thickened dead skin surrounding the verruca, and eventually destroys the virus, but can be rather slow to work, and does not work in all cases. It is best to abrade the verruca with pumice before treatment to remove as much thickened skin as possible.

In some cases, medical practitioners may recommend cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen), laser treatment or simple surgery. All of these will be painful and may cause localised damage to uninfected tissues. Because these methods do not always destroy all HPV in the vicinity, the verrucas may return. Local injection of antigens such as mumps, candida or trichophytin antigens is a new treatment which is designed to trigger an immune response resulting in destruction of a verruca or wart. If successful, the immune response may also cause other skin lesions on the body to disappear. If this treatment is offered, it may be the best option for treatment of verrucas and warts.

Veruccas may also be treated by repeated application of raw tea tree oil, in conjuction with vitamin E in the form of ointment, or with neat geranium oil. The oil needs to be allowed to penetrate for as long as possible, preferably until it is no longer visible on the skin surface. Garlic oil and lemon oil in pure form have also been reported to speed up the process when mixed with tea tree oil. Abrading the verruca as far as possible with pumice prior to treatment will assist penetration of the oil.

A paste can also be prepared from tea trea oil and ground, dried black walnut husk plus burdock, an immune stimulant. This remedy acts quickly and is an extremely effective treatment for most virally induced skin lesions (a commercial preparation is available online under the name Bio-T.



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