My 13-year-old son has been suffering from multiple verrucae on his soles. Treatments have not helped. Now my younger son too has started developing warts on his feet. I had warts when I was younger. Is there a genetic linkage?

Your sons have plantar warts, commonly known as verruca caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). There are more than 60 HPV strains, and warts on different body areas can be inflicted by different groups of these HPV strains.

HPV is quite contagious – direct human body contact is considered the most common reason for its spread. Indirect contact – sharing socks and shoes, bathtubs, shower rooms – are also causes. Gyms and swimming pools play significant roles. Those with some degree of traumatised/broken skin are at a significantly higher risk of catching the virus through these modes of cross infection.

There is research mentioning a positive genetic influence in an individual’s pre-disposition of acquiring viral warts.

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Necessary preventive measures include improving clinical orientation of school nurses, PE/swimming instructors at schools and sport clubs by providing guidelines for early detection of viral warts among any users of the pool or premises. The same is true in the case of salon beauticians, barbers, manicure/pedicure technicians as well as massage therapists, that they should also be clinically examined to detect sufferers among them.

Failure of a cure for your elder son could be due to the treatment performed on a sub-optimal level (below the degree of effectiveness) or through an imperfect therapeutic technique. Alternative treatments include over-the-counter acid preparations, electrodessication and curettage and in rare cases, surgical excision.

In the last few years, HPV vaccines have been under clinical use in many countries. This had primarily been introduced for women with a past positive history or having a higher future vulnerability of acquiring viral warts on their cervix, increasing their potential risk of developing cervical cancer.

Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir is a Dubai-based dermatologist. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.