Appearing as small lumps on the skin of the hands and feet, they vary in appearance and may develop singularly, or in clusters. Some are likely to affect particular areas of the body, for example verrucas (medical name verrucae pedis), which is a type of wart that appears on the sole of the foot only. On the contrary, warts, also known as common warts, (medical name verrucae valgaris), are usually found on the top of toes, hands and fingers.
How do they develop and spread?
Warts and verruca are an infection on the top layer of the skin, caused by viruses in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. With over 100 variants, the viruses are more likely to cause a wart or verruca when they come into direct contact with skin that is damaged or cut, such as when people cut themselves during shaving.
If you contract a wart or verruca, it means that you must have come into contact with the virus sometime in the past. Most commonly, people contract warts through direct skin to skin contact, such as shaking hands with someone. They can also be caught from using inanimate objects, for example from using the same towel as someone who has warts or something as simple as using the same doorknob.
Verrucas, on the other hand, thrive in damp conditions. Often they are spread from the surface of communal wet surfaces, such as public swimming pools or communal showers.
What do warts and verrucas look like?
The common wart is round or oval-shaped, firm and raised, often with a rough, irregular surface, and can vary in size, from 1mm to 1cm in diameter. They are not usually painful, although they can occasionally itch or bleed. You may develop one, or several, common warts at once.
Verrucas are small, bumpy growths on the soles of the feet. They are white, often with a black dot (blood vessel) on its surface. The verrucas will be flat, rather than raised.
It is also recommended to keep your feet dry and change your socks every day, as this could give the HPV the opportunity to breed. Also, do not touch, scratch or pick your (or someone elses) wart or verruca, as this could cause it to spread to other parts of the body.
If you have been in an area where you think you may have been exposed to the HPV, wash your feet thoroughly with a disinfectant soap.