A Wart is a contagious viral infection of the skin, usually taking the form of a small, hard nodule. The wart itself is a cluster of your own skin cells that have been infected and transformed by the virus. 70% of all warts are on the fingers and hands. The wart virus can be passed from one person to another and from site to site on the same person.
Some people's immune systems can suppress warts and these people tend not to suffer. Many people will develop immune suppression of warts and there is often a spontaneous remission within 2-5 years. Immunity to warts does not necessarily prevent infection by the same virus in a different skin type, causing planar warts and veruccas.
The wart virus cannot normally penetrate healthy skin and takes advantage of broken skin; the spread of warts is often made worse by nail biting. Warts commonly occur around fingernails, especially in children and can lead to a depression in the nail matrix, causing grooves to develop in the nails.
Verrucas appear as round nodules on the underside of the foot, often with a small black pit at the surface. Because of the pressure exerted during walking they grow inwards into the foot rather than outwards. Veruccas appear both singly and in groups (mosaic) and can be painful because of their depth -they can feel like a stone in the shoe and be deep enough to press on nerves in the foot.
70% of veruccas resolve on their own within 1 year, 90% resolve within 2 years. If the blood supply to the verruca clots (thrombosis), the verruca can become very painful. However, without a blood supply the verruca will rapidly die off.
Do warts and veruccas need to be treated at all?
Because warts and verrucas rely on a blood supply that easily clots and because the virus is constantly under attack by your own immune system, warts and verrucas often 'burn out' without intervention; however, this can take a very long period of time. During the time it takes for an individual wart to disappear, it is possible for the virus to spread, producing more warts in adjacent areas.