Common ailments

Verrucas

My little boy is suffering with painful verrucas. I often take him swimming and I have heard that public swimming pools are a haven for the verruca virus. I have tried some over-the-counter treatments but the verrucas don’t seem to be getting any better.

Verrucas are actually just warts that occur on the soles of the feet but they can cause a lot of discomfort and they are contagious.

Most verrucas will eventually disappear without the need for treatment. This is often the best option for children as some treatments, such as cryotherapy (freezing), can be painful and cause side-effects.  

You could however try a self-help remedy which many GPs now recommend. This involves covering the verruca with a small piece of good quality duct tape (strong waterproof DIY tape) and leaving this in place for six days. You then need to soak the verruca in warm water and rub gently with an emery board to remove any dead skin. Keep the verruca uncovered overnight and then apply a fresh piece of tape the next morning. Continue this cycle for 8-12 weeks or until the verruca dries up and falls off.  

Most over-the-counter creams and gels for the treatment of verrucas contain salicylic acid which gradually softens the hard, outer layer of the verruca. This can, however, cause irritation, especially to surrounding healthy skin. Again, treatment can take up to three months to produce results.

In the meantime, you should probably check with your local swimming baths as to whether they have a policy on swimming with verrucas. Also, if you have other children then they should avoid sharing towels, shoes or socks with your son until his verrucas have completely disappeared.

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