Warts and verrucas [video]

Video author: Streaming Well
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Video Transcript
Should we treat warts and verrucas?

Dr. Ann Robinson: My advice to parents would be to leave warts and verrucas alone unless they're getting absolutely unmanageable, spreading over the entire surface of the foot so the child can't walk, but that's really rarely the case. Most kids are going to get warts or verrucas or another viral skin infection called molluscum, and they will all clear by themselves if left untreated.

There is no such thing as somebody developing a verruca at the age of five who has still got it at the age of 85. They always clear, and they almost always clear within a year, but they do sometimes take a year, and a year is average, so that you get some kids who clear a wart or verruca within a few weeks, and for every one of those you'll get another one for whom it will take more than a year.

The reason is that our own immune system is divided really into two bits. One bit of the immune system deals with things like bacteria and bugs, like when we get a flu or bad cold and, as we know, they kick in pretty quickly and they clear the bug usually within a week, but there's another kind of immunity that clears things likes warts and verrucas, and it's much slower, as we know, and so it has to build up very gradually, but to physically destroy a wart or verruca you have to use something like liquid nitrogen, which is very powerful, and although you try and direct it just at the wart or verruca, and though you try and protect the surrounding skin with a bit of Vaseline, you quite often end up damaging the surrounding skin, and that's why you get that white look, and they can blister, and they can be very painful after treatment, and sometimes even the blisters get infected because they get bugs in them, and they can be very uncomfortable.

I don't really understand why people do bring their kids along. I don't really like it when they do, to be honest, because it means we hurt them, and then next time they need to come to us for some vital injection—you know, for something important like MMR or something, they start crying before they even walk through the front door because we've hurt them, and we've hurt them for something that it's not really necessary to treat.

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