Kelly Rose Bradford | July 8 2014.
As the months wore on I realised the discomfort was coming from two hard lumps on my heels.
They became more and more painful but instead of seeing a doctor I foolishly self-treated them as corns, getting through packets of salicylic acid-infused plasters.
They didn’t help and by spring I could not put my heels to the floor. An emergency appointment with a podiatrist revealed I had a huge collection of verrucas with thick callouses surrounding them.
I was taken aback – I had no idea they could cause such pain.
“Verrucas can be painful if on a weight-bearing area,” says Martin Harvey, consultant podiatrist from the Priory Hospital, Birmingham.
“The pain comes from the verruca pressing on nerves in the skin tissue, leaving the patient feeling as though they are walking on a large, rough lump of grit.”
Verrucas are caused by infection with the human papilloma virus, says Mr Harvey and in the worst cases can form fissures that open and then pull apart the tender skin underneath, restricting walking.
My cluster of verrucas was treated with cryotherapy. Liquid nitrogen in the form of a freezing cold spray was directed at each wart and, where the skin was not broken, treated with silver nitrate.
My podiatrist advised me to follow up with an over-the-counter paint-on preparation. She warned me my feet would feel worse before they got better. The “thawing out” from the liquid nitrogen was agony and a week of pain followed before I was able to walk with both heels to the ground.
Four weeks after the liquid nitrogen treatment and with the nightly application of paint-on gel, my feet are back to normal.
Mr Harvey recommends that adults and children alike take precautions to avoid picking up verrucas in the first place.
“People should regularly clean shower trays and baths,” he says, as well as advising patients not to share or swap socks, footwear or foot-treatment items.
Although many verrucas heal spontaneously within 24 months, Mr Harvey says those affecting daily life need professional help.
For more information and advice contact the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists at iocp.org.uk or call 01704 546 141