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A wart is a small and normally painless abnormal growth of the skin, which is caused by an infection from the virus called the human papillomavirus or HPV. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States and it enters the body through broken skin, settling in the top and outermost layer of the skin called the dermis. However, warts don’t appear immediately after infection, making it difficult to determine the time and place when one was infected. Warts can spread to other people and to other parts of one’s own body thorough direct physical contact. Sharing personal items with other people can also spread the virus that causes warts.

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Warts can be smooth or flat, and they may make the surface of the skin lighter or darker. This is because there are different types of warts. Warts that appear on the hands and the fingers are called common warts, while those that appear on the soles of the feet are called plantar warts. Flat warts are those that grow n the face and the forehead. Subungual and periungual warts are those that affect the skin under and around the fingernails and toenails. Genital warts, also called condyloma, appear in the pubic area, on the genitals, and even inside the vaginal or anal canal.

Although it may be tempting, one should never attempt to remove a wart by themselves through burning, cutting, or tearing, as this may lead to further complications. Warts can disappear even without treatment after a certain period of time. However, their appearance may make one feel self-conscious. In this case, one can purchase over-the-counter medication for warts like Scholl, Wartner, and Weleda Thuja. A doctor can treat warts with cryotherapy, laser surgery, chemical peels, or medicine with retinoid cream or cantharidin.

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