ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VERRUCAE

What are Verrucae?

Verrucae are commonly called warts. They can occur on any part of the body, but we are concerned with those which occur on the feet or toes. The correct name for this type of verruca is Verruca Pedis.

What causes Verrucae?

These warts are common and considered to be due to a virus infection. There are several types of viruses which cause verrucae (warts). These infections occur generally at swimming baths, on the beach, communal showers, at leisure centres and, of course, schools. Anywhere in fact where people share the same floor surface and walk about with bare feet. It only needs a little scratch in the skin for the virus to enter. However, some people never get them, they have a resistance to them.

What do they look like?

They vary in appearance due whether you have dry skin or a moist skin. With moist skins they appear often as rubbery overgrowths, on dry skin they might appear brownish, rough and crumbly. Frequently they are covered with hard skin.

Where do they occur?

Anywhere on the foot. Frequently on the toes, heels, soles of the foot and sometimes between the toes. They can also occur on your fingers. They vary in size from a tiny spot to something which may be as much as 1 cm in diameter. They may occur singly or as multiple verrucae. They may occur on one or both feet.

Do Verrucae hurt?

Frequently they do and pain is often felt first thing in the morning when stepping down from the bed. This is because you have rested during the night and the blood supply is not under any pressure due to standing and, of course, pain is then felt upon pressure. A simple way of testing whether it is verruca or not, is to squeeze the sides. If it hurts more when you do this it is invariably a verruca. However, many verrucae are completely painless.

Do only children get Verrucae?

It is true that verrucae commonly occur mainly in children and young adults. However, they sometimes occur in more mature people, and this is especially happening now with more adults attending leisure centres and playing more sport.

How are Verrucae treated?

It is true to say that many verrucae simply disappear of their own volition. This is because the person develops a resistance to the virus infection and fights it off. However, some do not, and they need help. I will be able to select the best method of treating your verruca, or multiple verrucae. I will use either a special ointment or liquid, which has to be applied at regular intervals of between five and seven days. Then it is vital that you return, because the ointments are caustic and destroy the verrucae by gentle destruction. You will be told not to get the dressing wet and if it does happen, you must always return immediately, because if there is an acid in the ointment it could spread onto the healthy tissue.

Is there a simpler method of treating Verrucae?

Yes, there is, using a method called Cryosurgery. It is not surgery in its usual sense, but is a method of freezing the verrucae with a gentle gas and the advantage is that it is frequently quicker in destroying the verruca, often with one application. Another advantage is that it does not matter whether you get the verruca or foot wet whilst it is undergoing treatment. Of course if it blisters or needs a little dressing one must observe normal antiseptic procedures.

If in any doubts about whether you have verruca then always consult me, a qualified Practitioner. The letters MCFHP indicate that I am a Member of the Open College of Foot Health Professionals having undertaken extensive training and passed a searching examination. The other letters MAFHP denote that I am a Member of the Association of Foot Health Practitioners. I undertake to act professionally in every manner and adhere to a strict code of professional conduct.

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Foot Care for People with Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to:

  • nerve damage in the feet and legs resulting in a loss of sensation, pins and needles or possible numbness and burning sensation-this is called neuropathy
  • a reduced blood supply to the feet and legs resulting in cold, painful feet

This means that injuries to the feet may go unnoticed, be slow to heal and can quickly become infected. It is important that your feet are examined as part of your Annual Review each year so that any problems can be treated early on.

To prevent problems it is important that you care for you feet. The following information should help:

  • Wash feet daily with a mild soap and luke warm water.
  • Dry feet thoroughly especially between the toes, using a soft towel or tissue.
  • For moist/sweaty skin between the toes apply surgical spirit with cotton wool.
  • To prevent dry skin use moisturising cream, but avoid applying between the toes.
  • When cutting toenails, follow the curve of the nail and avoid digging into the corners. Do not cut nails too short.
  • Use a pair of nail nippers and file the nail to avoid sharp edges.
  • For problem nails such as ingrown or thickened nails, or if you have poor eyesight consult a Foot Health Practitioner.
  • Corns and calluses should be dealt with by a Foot Health Practitioner. Do not use razor blades, corn plasters, etc. However you may use a pumice stone to smooth hard skin and corns.
  • Choose shoes with a fastening such as laces to hold the foot in place. Wear closed shoes with a deep, round toe box to allow plenty of room for the toes.
  • Have feet measured when buying new shoes. Always wear in new shoes gradually to prevent rubs/blisters.
  • Avoid walking barefoot-always wear shoes/slippers even indoors to protect your feet.
  • Change socks daily. Wear socks or stockings, which fit correctly and are in good repair.
  • Look at your feet daily. Check between the toes and underneath your feet, you may need to use a mirror.
  • Things to look out for:
    • cuts, scratches and blisters
    • any change in colour (red, black, blue white)
    • sudden changes in temperature
    • any discharge from a break or crack in the skin
    • any unusual swelling and painful areas
  • Check shoes inside and out, before putting them on, for cracks, pebbles or sharp edges, which may irritate the skin. You may not be able to feel these if you have a loss of sensation.

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Foot Care for the Elderly

As an elderly patient, it is important that you pay special attention to your feet with regard to foot hygiene, the cutting of nails, the type of sock and stockings/hosiery worn, type of shoe and other matters concerning the feet.

Nails

Your nails should be attended to on a regular basis using a pair of ordinary nail clippers. The nails of the elderly are usually quite thick in many cases and therefore it would be best to do nail cutting after bath time, as the nail would be much easier to cut. Nails should be cut making sure that you follow the length and shape of the toe so as to minimize damage to the nail during the regrowth stage. NEVER probe the nail groove or any part of the nail. Should you be experiencing any difficulty with your nails or should you suffer or any pain or discomfort, consult your Practitioner for help and advice.

CORNS AND CALLOUSES

It is important for the elderly patient to know that any corn or callous should be treated by a qualified Practitioner and that removal of these disorders should not be attempted by the patient. Equally NEVER use any corn cures as the medicaments in the preparations could have a serious effect on you.

If you have sweaty feet normally, then clean the feet, dry them and apply talcum powder. If you suffer from dry feet, then use of a cream will help to maintain the feet. It is important that you change to a clean pair of socks/stockings every day.

HEAT AND COLD

Due to age the elderly in many cases have problems with circulation and because of this you should avoid very hot baths, electric blankets should be turned off at bedtime and you should not sit too close to fireplaces or heaters.

FOOTWEAR

Shoes must be chosen carefully. It is best to have lace-up and soft upper shoes so that your feet will be held firmly during walking. To be sure that the shoes are suited for your feet, test walk on a solid area of the store NOT ON THE CARPETED FLOOR.

It is best to have you feet measured when buying shoes. Feet must be measured when standing, as this is when the true size is known.

It is important that you wear socks/stockings that will not restrict the movement of the foot. Avoid going barefoot.

FIRST-AID

If any minor injury should happen to you (e.g. cuts, bruises) clean the area and apply a mild antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon). DO NOT apply adhesive strapping directly to the area or wrap the strapping around toes, as this will restrict circulation.

Blisters on the feet should be left alone and should not be punctured (pricked) to release the fluid, but should be left to dry up on their own. Should they open of their own accord and discharge their contents, dress with an antiseptic dressing.

It will be necessary to visit your Practitioner or G.P. if the injury is not responding to the treatment.

UNHEALTHY FEET

If you notice any discharge coming from a break in the skin, from a nail or corn, it is important that you visit your Practitioner.

If there is pain, itching, swelling or colour changes in the feet or leg, visit the Practitioner.

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