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What is a verruca?

Verrucas are extremely common, with many adults and children experiencing these small, rough growths on their feet at some point in their lives.

Verrucas are a type of wart, known as plantar warts, and are only ever found on the sole of the foot. They are characterised by a white round bit of hard skin with one or more black dots in the middle. These black dots are caused by tiny blood vessells. A typical verruca measures approximately 1 to 10mm in diameter and grow deep into the skin. Usually, this growth occurs slowly with the verruca starting small and becoming larger over time.

There are two different types of verrucas. A solitary wart is a single plantar wart. It often increases in size and may eventually multiply, forming additional satellite plantar warts.

Mosaic warts are a cluster of several small verrucas that are growing closely together in one area, creating a mosaic pattern. Mosaic verrucas are more difficult to treat than solitary ones. A person can develop more than one verruca at a time.

Sometimes verrucas can be quite painful, depending on where on the foot they develop.

Verrucas are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) with broken or wet skin more susceptible to infection. With the feet more prone to minor injury during childhood activities, this means that verrucas are a common complaint among young people, although they can develop at any age.

Half of verrucas in children disappear on their own within a year and two-thirds resolve within two years. However it can take many years to resolve in adults. As a result, many people decide to seek treatment for their verrucas.

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Dr Kristina Semkova

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Dr Thivi Maruthappu is a highly respected Consultant Dermatologist with over a decade of experience. She has expertise in all aspects of adult dermatology...

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Dr. Derrick Phillips

Consultant Dermatologist

Dr Phillips is a Consultant Dermatologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. He sees adult patients with general skin problems (acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, other rashes & hyperhidrosis) and has expertise in skin cancer and skin surgery...

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How does verruca removal work?

Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in over-the-counter verruca removal treatments. This works by breaking down and softening the hard skin growth. This makes it easier to eventually remove the verruca with a pumice stone or emery board. However this method is time-consuming and does not always work.

Cryotherapy is by far the most effective way of dealing with a verruca. Liquid nitrogen is applied directly to the verruca, freezing it and killing it. The growth later falls off of the foot. A verruca can also be removed from the foot using a surgical scalpel. This procedure is carried out under a local anesthetic in a clinical setting.

If you choose to undergo verruca removal treatment here at the Cadogan Clinic, the process is very straightforward. First, you visit our state-of-the-art clinic on Sloane Street, Chelsea, for your in-person consultation with one of our expert dermatologists before starting your treatment plan.

A return visit to the clinic will allow our dermatologist to monitor the progress of your treatment. However this repeat visit is not always necessary.

It is important that patients follow all aftercare instructions issued by their dermatologist, post-removal.

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To enquire about a consultation with a Verruca Removal specialist, please complete the form:

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If you have any questions or queries please call to speak to one of our advisors or request a call back to speak at a time that suits you.

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Why Do People Have It?

There are a number of benefits to verruca removal treatment at the Cadogan Clinic.

Our quick, effective treatment will leave you with blemish-free, painless skin, with minimal or no scarring. Following successful treatment, a patient will no longer have to worry about shoes and socks rubbing and aggravating the affected area.

Verruca removal helps to improve self-esteem and restore self-confidence, allowing you to bare your feet at the swimming pool, beach or gym without fear of judgement.

Book a consultation with one of our expert dermatologists at our Chelsea clinic and let us help to restore your self-confidence and help you to reach your body goals.

Who Is Suitable?

Verruca treatment is safe, effective and suitable for adults and children. If a patient is particularly prone to scarring, or at risk of hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation, the Cadogan Clinic’s team of plastic surgeons works closely with our expert dermatologists.

Some treatments may not be suitable for pregnant women who are experiencing verrucas. However cryotherapy is considered to be safe for pregnant women. Our specialist dermatologists here at the Cadogan Clinic can advise on the most appropriate verruca removal treatment option for you and talk through any concerns you may have.


Why come to The Cadogan Clinic for your Verruca Removal?

There are a number of reasons why the Cadogan Clinic is the go-to place for verruca removal.

  • Dermatologist-led: Our verruca removal service is dermatologist-led, meaning that every verruca removal patient is seen and treated by a trained dermatologist. 
  • Plastic surgeon-supported: We have a team of fifteen plastic surgeons who provide support to our dermatology team for more complex removal cases or reconstructions, or in cases where the patient is particularly sensitive to scarring.
  • Rapid, same-day removal: We able to offer rapid, same-day removal of verrucas due to our three fully staffed on-site theatres here at our Chelsea-based clinic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Verrucas are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and can be easily spread via contact with a contaminated surface or skin-to-skin contact. Verrucas are more likely to spread if the skin is damaged or wet, meaning swimming pools and communal showers and changing areas provide the perfect conditions to spread the virus.

People who have a weakened immune system, either through a medical condition or from taking immunosuppressant drugs, are more likely to develop verrucas.

There are plenty of verruca removal treatments available which can be done at home. These include creams, gels, paints and medicated plasters. Some of these products are more effective than others and often the treatment process can be slow. The cost of buying these over-the-counter remedies can also add up and some people find they end up spending a lot of money without achieving the desired result. Never try and remove a verruca by picking it off as this can cause the infection to spread, meaning new verrucas could form. Picking or scratching a verruca can also cause the foot to bleed.

The Cadogan Clinic offers verruca removal treatment which is fast and highly effective. Our 

expert dermatologists at the Cadogan Clinic can assess your condition and recommend the best type of treatment to suit your requirements at our state-of-the-art, purpose-built, central London facility in Chelsea.

Contrary to popular belief, verrucas do not have roots. The black bits which can be seen in the centre of a verruca are in fact blood vessels. Picking or scratching a verruca can cause it to bleed. Trying to ‘dig out’ a verruca yourself may leave bits of it behind and risk spreading the infection to other parts of the foot.

Cryotherapy treatment kills the verruca by freezing it. The plantar wart then drops off on its own, leaving no trace. Excision, when carried out by a professional dermatologist in a clinical setting, sees the whole verruca removed cleanly and efficiently. 

Topical treatments are available to purchase over-the-counter. However these treatments produce mixed results. To save time and increase the chances of a successful outcome, we recommend cryotherapy or excision at the Cadogan Clinic instead.

Cryotherapy, a treatment which kills off verrucas by freezing them, is considered one of the safest and most effective verruca removal treatment. Excision, or surgical removal, is another highly effective way of relieving the foot of a troublesome verruca.

Recovery time should be instant and a person will be able to immediately resume daily activities in most cases. Patients may be asked to wear a dressing for a few days and the treatment site may be a little tender.

Complications are rare with both cryotherapy and excision verruca removal.

Some NHS trusts fund verruca removal, but many don’t. In order to be treated quickly, and to relieve some of the burden on our over-stretched National Health Service, private treatment at the Cadogan Clinic is recommended.

There are many over-the-counter verruca treatments currently on the market, in the form of creams, gels, paints and medicated plasters. Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in most of these treatments. However there is limited evidence available to show which type of salicylic acid treatment (cream, gel, paint or plasters) is most effective. The treatment process can be slow and salicylic acid can sometimes cause damage or irritation to healthy skin.

Cryotherapy is a far more effective treatment. In cryotherapy, liquid nitrogen is applied to the verruca for a few seconds to freeze and destroy the affected skin cells. After treatment, a sore blister will form, followed by a scab, which will fall off between seven and ten days later.

A session of cryotherapy is quick, usually taking just five to 15 minutes to complete. However some people can find it painful, although it is usually well-tolerated, and very occasionally more than one session may be required.

There are two different cryotherapy methods. Liquid nitrogen may be sprayed directly onto the verruca, or it may be applied to the affected site using a stick with cotton wool on the tip. Potential side effects include pain, blistering and the skin may become darker (hyperpigmentation) or lighter (hypopigmentation). This risk is higher for patients with black skin.

Cryotherapy is considered a safe verruca removal treatment for pregnant women.

Excision removal is also an option. This sees the verruca carefully removed from the body with a surgical scalpel following the administration of a local anesthetic. This process is quick, painless and no further treatment is needed.

Some people use a method involving duct tape to rid themselves of verrucas. However this is a lengthy process and there is conflicting research as to the effectiveness of this home remedy. One study suggested that treating a verruca or wart with duct tape is no better than a placebo treatment. The Cadogan Clinic does not recommend this method of verruca removal when there are quicker, more effective, treatments available. 

There is no evidence that alternative home remedies involving fruit, vegetables or vinegar help to rid the body of a verruca. Indeed, some home remedies may cause more harm than good. Some people have even been known to turn to hypnotherapy in a bid to rid themselves of verrucas and warts. This approach has no scientific basis whatsoever and merely serves to delay seeking appropriate medical treatment.

Verrucas usually develop on the soles of the feet. The affected area of skin will be white, often with a black dot (blood vessel) in the centre, underneath the hard skin. A verruca is flat rather than raised because of the pressure put on them. Sometimes a verruca can be mistaken for a corn or callus, but these do not have the giveaway black dots in the centre.

A verruca can be painful or tender if it is located on a weight-bearing part of the foot. This can make walking difficult or intolerable.

Sometimes a person may have tightly-packed clusters of small verrucas on the foot. These are known as ‘mosaic warts’ as the pattern resembles a mosaic. Mosaic warts are treated in exactly the same way as a singular verruca. Cryotherapy and excision are both excellent ways to tackle the problem of mosaic warts.

If you have a new growth anywhere on your skin and you are unsure what it is, please seek medical advice. You should also see a doctor if you are worried about a wart or verruca, for example if it is particularly painful, bleeding or growing rapidly. Some types of skin cancer can look similar to warts. If in doubt, get it checked out.

Most people will be infected by the human papilloma virus (HPV) at some point in their life and as a result develop warts or verrucas. Sometimes it can take weeks or even months for a verruca to appear following contact with the virus.

However, verrucas are not inevitable and there are steps a person can take to lower their chances of getting verrucas and prevent spreading them to others.

To help prevent a verruca developing:

  • Do not touch other people’s verrucas or warts
  • Do not share towels, flannels, shoes, socks or other personal items with someone who has a verruca
  • Avoid scratching or picking a verruca because this can cause the virus to spread
  • Keep feet dry and change socks every day to help prevent verrucas from developing
  • Always wash your hands after touching a verruca.

Verrucas should be covered up when taking part in communal activities, for example a waterproof plaster should be worn for swimming or for physical education at schools. Wearing flip flops or pool slippers in communal changing rooms and showers will also help to prevent the spread of the virus.

A rubber or plastic verruca sock is also an option to cover the verruca up when going swimming. However, British Swimming, the national governing body for swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and open water in Great Britain, advises against the use of verruca socks, saying they have ‘limited value’ and merely serve to draw attention to the affected foot. 

Although a verruca can be successfully removed, treatment does not prevent further plantar warts.

As with many viral infections, people can develop immunity to the verruca-causing virus over time. Many children develop immunity without having knowingly developed a verruca. This may explain why this particular type of wart is more prevalent in young people than in adults. However people can still develop verrucas at any age.

Here at the Cadogan Clinic, we treat thousands of skin lumps and bumps cases each year, including plantar warts, or verrucas. Our team of nine highly experienced specialist dermatologists have been handpicked to form one of the best independent dermatology units in the country. Our purpose-built dermatology clinic is conveniently located off Sloane Square.

The Cadogan Clinic’s team of experts will be happy to talk you through the treatment options open to you. Get in touch today to book a consultation with one of our dermatologists for an in-person assessment of your skin.

How to find us

The Cadogan Clinic is based at 120 Sloane Street in Chelsea, just off Sloane Square and the Kings Road.

We are accessible by all major bus routes that pass through Sloane Square and Sloane Street, as well as Sloane Square tube station.

We are just a 5 minute walk northwards up Sloane Street once you have arrived at Sloane Square.

Local pay parking is available just around the corner from the Clinic on Cadogan Gate, Cadogan Square and Cadogan Gardens. Our local residential parking zone is the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

Address: 120 Sloane Street, Chelsea, London, SW1X 9BW

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