Verrucae are caused by the human papilloma virus, which has many strains and is quite common. To have one is no reflection on your personal hygiene!
There are many theories as to how people contract these viruses, but it is generally accepted that they are contracted by coming into contact with them whilst barefoot i.e around swimming pools, communal changing areas, etc.
It is believed that the virus sits in the upper layer of the skin (epidermis) where there are fewer patrolling immune cells and so the verruca is free to remain and multiply. Thus, in adults they can remain for many years and sometimes never resolve.
Most people will develop a verruca at some point, generally during childhood. The vast majority of childhood verrucae will resolve without any treatment, however, this may take over a year and they often worsen prior to resolving.
Pain is associated with verrucae when hard skin builds up over the verrucae and causes increased pressure over the area. Tiny nerves and blood vessels can also be pushed up into the outer layers of the skin by the verruca virus, causing discomfort when weightbearing.
There are many recognised treatments for verrucae, however, they can be painful and success rates are generally poor, as low as 15% success for some therapies.
Verrucae Needling is a technique, which attempts to stimulate the body’s own immune system into resolving the verruca by introducing minute amounts of the virus into the bloodstream. Success rates have shown it to be better than many other treatments (50-70%), however, it still holds no guarantee of resolution. This technique is usually undertaken only once or twice and is performed under local anaesthetic.
Caustic Treatments involve a chemical being applied to the verruca. Treatments need to be completed on a weekly basis for a minimum of 6 weeks. Success rates are in the region of 30%.
Cryotherapy is where the verruca is frozen by applying a compressed gas. Weekly treatments need to be undertaken for a minimum of 6 weeks. Success rates are in the region of 30%.