Verrucas (verruca vulgaris) are benign lumps on the skin caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Usually they appear on hands and feet, but they can appear almost anywhere on the body. Verrucas are rough, skin-coloured small lumps on the skin. They can have a small spot of blood in the middle, especially when they are being treated. Verrucas may crack and can be very painful, particularly when on the sole of the foot.
Verrucas are most common in children and young adults. Verrucas last longer in adults than in children, sometimes even for years. Verrucas will eventually disappear as the body produces an antibody against the virus. However, disturbances in the immune system and some medications can slow down or even stop the healing.
The spreading of verrucas is difficult to stop and their spreading mechanism or incubation period is not fully known. Walking barefoot in public spaces or scratching verrucas may help the virus spread.
Pharmacies sell a wide range of verruca products, such as plasters or gels and sprays. The pharmacy staff will help you choose the right products. Follow the instructions on the package carefully.
The products work by either softening or dissolving the lump, which is then easier to scrape off. They may also trigger the production of antibodies. Don’t cut or shave the verruca because this can cause an infection.
Freeze sprays can speed up the healing of verrucas on the hands but are not effective for verrucas located on the soles of the feet.
When should you seek medical advice?
If the verrucas are widespread, painful, or cosmetically inconvenient despite self-care, you should seek medical advice, especially if you are taking immunosuppressant medication.
This Self-care instruction has been produced in collaboration with Duodecim Terveyskirjasto