When it comes to verrucas, many people ask why some verruca will disappear on their own, and others require months, or years, of continual treatment? To answer this question, we need to focus on what causes verrucas, and why they are so difficult to treat using the traditional freezing and acid methods.
- Swift is a technology developed in the UK, licensed for use in Podiatry and Dermatology for the general treatment of skin lesions.
- Swift uses microwave energy delivered through a probe which is applied to the skin.
- Patients will often feel a sharp sensation, similar to an injection.
- Unlike most treatments for verruca, the pain during treatment subsides and there is only prolonged pain in extreme cases.
- Your podiatrist may lighting reduce the lesion with a blade before treatment, also called debriding.
- The area may feel sore in some cases after treatment; however, it will not usually prevent you from undertaking day-to-day activity.
- Most people with skin lesions can have the treatment. The treatment is not recommended for use of diabetic patients, patients with implanted electronic devise or electrodes of for use close to metallic objects (i.e. metal foot implants, jewellery, etc).
There are 150 genotypically different types of HPV, and 7 common strains that cause warts and verruca. Spontaneous resolution and response to treatment depends on many variables, including age, length of time the verruca has been present, where the wart is on the body, and the type of HPV.
The HPV virus creates a microenvironment in the skin that encourages the survival and reproduction of the virus, effectively hiding its existence from the body’s immune system.
There is clinical evidence that shows the longer the infection has persisted, the poorer the cure rate. Verruca that present on the feet in particular are difficult to resolve. The statistics tell us that 42% of verruca will disappear within 6 months, but if the condition persists for longer than 6 months, the chances of the virus clearing up without treatment drops to just 8%.
While warts and verruca are not life threatening, they do cause pain that can limit activities, and they can spread across the hands, feet, and to other areas of the body. This leaves the many long-standing sufferers in the UK with limited options.
Liquid nitrogen has been clinically proven to be a poor solution for verruca patients, with one UK clinical trial showing a cure rate of just 14% when compared to acid treatment, another common verruca treatment which also showed a 14% clearance rate.
Liquid nitrogen destroys verruca tissue by freezing, while acid treatment is a form of chemical destruction. The aim of both of these treatments is to destroy the verruca, and lasers, radiofrequency and the majority of other treatments available seek to do the same thing. The treatments begin at the surface and continue until sufficient depth is reached – causing blistering, lasting pain, and risking scarring. From a clinical research perspective, all of these methods show low efficacy in clinical studies and trials.
The key to effectively treating verruca is to trigger the body’s own immune response, rather than simply destroying the infected tissue. Independent clinical research has shown that microwave verruca treatment with Swift activates immune signalling pathways in the body, alerting the immune system to the presence of the verruca and clearing the infected tissue.
- Week 1
During your first treatment, your Podiatrist may lightly reduce your lesion with a blade (debride), before applying 3-5 very short treatments with Swift (usually 2 seconds in duration). This quickly raises the temperature within the skin, without breaking the surface – meaning no blisters, no padding, and no scarring. It is not uncommon for patients to feel a sharp sensation, similar to an injection, but unlike most treatments for verruca, pain felt during the treatment quickly subsides.
- Week 4
Your second treatment for Swift will usually occur 4 weeks later. Some patients will see black spots appear beneath the surface of the skin after the 1st treatment, but the size of the lesion may remain the same. The Swift treatment works by reducing the depth, rather than the width. Your Podiatrist will provide advice on what to expect, but patients report a similar sensation to their 1st treatment.
- Week 8
Your third appointment will usually be your last treatment appointment, although your Podiatrist will provide specific advice based on your individual condition. Of the patients who will resolve, 93% will resolve after this final treatment.
- Week 20
Your Podiatrist will usually leave a gap of 12 weeks for the body to heal and cycle through the immune response. You should feel little to no pain from the verruca at this stage, and your normal skin should be returning where the verruca was.