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Verrucas are warts that appear on the soles of the feet. The virus that causes them is highly contagious, and treatment is often an ongoing process. What are your options, and how can you prevent verrucas?

Verrucas are small, raised growths that develop on the soles of the feet. Characterized by small black dots in the middle, these warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and are not at all uncommon. 

Verrucas can have a long incubation period and might not show up for a long time after you catch the virus. Getting rid of them can also, unfortunately, take a long time.

How can you recognize verrucas? Should you try over-the-counter remedies if you have them, or are you better off going straight to the doctor? And — is there anything you can do to prevent verrucas?

Verrucas: The Basics

Verrucas are, in short, nasty warts that appear on the soles of the feet. They are also called plantar warts for that reason. Caused by HPV, verrucas are incredibly contagious. Skin-to-skin contact may be responsible for verrucas, but you can also catch the virus from contact with any surface an infected person has previously touched — like gyms, the area around swimming pools, or your own shower. 

The Human Papilloma virus can have a long incubation period, and verrucas may not develop for weeks, months, or even years following initial contact. When verrucas do rear their ugly head, you will most probably recognize them.

HPV leads to an excess production of keratin, and verrucas have a circular appearance created by that additional skin. Patients will also typically notice black dots embedded in the center of the wart. These dots contain the actual virus.

The fact that your feet carry your entire body weight usually means any verrucas you develop are pushed inwards, but plantar warts do occasionally grow outwards. Verrucas can be painless, mildly uncomfortable, or extremely painful.

People with underdeveloped or weak immune systems are particularly vulnerable to verrucas. These groups include children, the elderly, and people with certain diseases — including HIV. 

A quick clinical examination will confirm the diagnosis. Once you are diagnosed, you have multiple treatment options. Expectant management, more simply described as "monitoring the verrucas but not treating them" is an option for those who do not experience their verrucas as painful. 

Before you decide to leave your verrucas alone, remember they are very contagious indeed. Members of your household will be quite likely to develop them as well, but there's more: you can infect your hands or genitals through direct contact with the verrucas, and this means you could develop warts on your hands and genitals too. In some cases, warts can even appear on the face.

This piece of little-known information will lead most individuals with verrucas to seek treatment for their warts.  

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