Article by Angela Haldane

Q.  I have suffered from verrucas for 5 years. I've had them burnt out, but they keep returning. What can you suggest?

A. Verrucas and warts can be obstinate. Zinc and vitamin A are important. A British Journal of Dermatology in 2002 reported a study of patients with obstinate warts who took a daily dose of zinc sulphate oral supplementation – a "highly efficacious therapeutic option for recalcitrant viral warts" which "proved to be safe with few adverse effects". 

Homeopathic remedies can be useful too, such as Sulphur 30c for plantar warts, Thuja as a general wart treatment or Dulcamara for large flat warts. Seek advice from your natural practitioner to select the right remedy for you.

Salicylic acid is available from the chemist, although you might need the stronger strength on prescription to work through the thicker skin on the sole of a foot. This causes a local irritation, which provokes the immune system to recognise that the wart is there, and want to kill it. Treatment can be enhanced by sanding back the dead skin with an emery board, then applying the acid again. Apply the salicylic acid daily. The programme should take about a week.

Other traditional treatments include applying the milky latex from a dandelion to the wart or verruca, cut up squares of banana skin applied topically has been used traditionally ...or a slice of garlic covered with a plaster.