A common, contagious, harmless growth that occurs on the skin or mucous membranes. Only the topmost layer of skin is affected. An overgrowth of cells in this layer causes a visible lump to develop. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus, of which at least 30 different types are known. These cause different types of warts at various sites, such as on the hands or genitals. Flat warts are flesh-coloured, sometimes itchy lumps with flat tops that occur mainly on the wrists, backs of hands, and face. About 50 per cent of warts disappear in 6–12 months without treatment. However, genital warts should be treated promptly. Common, flat, and plantar warts can sometimes be destroyed using a wart-removing liquid or special plaster. Several treatments may be necessary, and sometimes the wart returns. Warts are commonly treated by cryosurgery.


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