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Warts are small, harmless skin growths caused by a virus. Warts grow on any part of the body. Common warts are raised and have a rough surface on which tiny, dark dots can often be seen. They may grow around the nails, on the fingers and on the backs of hands. Common warts never turn cancerous. They may bleed if injured.

Since warts are caused by a virus (e.g., human papilloma virus), they are contagious. Warts may spread on the body or to other people. There is no way to prevent warts. Genital warts are easily transmitted. The wart virus in the vagina and cervix causes cancer.

Foot warts, called plantar warts, grow inward on the sole of the foot. The tissues become thickened from the pressure of standing and the warts appear flat. Walking on plantar warts often produces pain.

It is not possible at this time to kill the warts virus. Common warts are treated at home with low strength salicylic acid. Painful or large warts need a doctor's care. The doctor removes the outer layer of the skin where the wart grows with chemicals, by freezing it with liquid nitrogen, or destruction with laser surgery. Even with treatment, warts may not disappear. And new warts may appear.

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