Genital warts – Condyloma – are soft growths that appear on the genitals that can cause pain, discomfort, and itching.
Genital warts are one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infections, caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Genital warts affect both women and men, but women are more vulnerable to complications. Genital warts can be treated, but they can come back unless the underlying infection is also treated.
APPOTEK can help you with genital warts.
Genital warts (condyloma acuminata) are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).
The warts affect the area around and inside the anus, but may also develop on the skin of the genital area. They first appear as tiny spots or growths, often as small as a pinhead.
The HPV virus is highly transmittable through skin-to-skin contact, which is why it’s considered an STI. HPV is the most common of all STIs.
Men and women who are sexually active are vulnerable to complications of HPV, including genital warts. HPV infection is especially dangerous for women because some types of HPV can also cause cancer of the cervix and vulva.
Treatment is key in managing this infection.
Genital warts are transmitted through sexual activity, including oral, vaginal, and anal sex. Not everyone gets symptoms, but if you do, they will usually appear one to six months after you become infected.
Genital warts aren’t always visible to the human eye. They may be very small and the color of the skin or slightly darker. The top of the growths may resemble a cauliflower and may feel smooth or slightly bumpy to the touch. They may occur as a cluster of warts, or just one wart.
They may be found anywhere in the anal or genital area, and are frequently found on external surfaces of the body, including the penile shaft, scrotum, or labia majora of the vagina. They can also occur on internal surfaces like the opening to the urethra, inside the vagina, on the cervix, or in the anus.
Genital warts may also appear on the lips, mouth, tongue, or throat of a person who has had oral sexual contact with a person who has HPV.
Even if you can’t see genital warts, they may still cause symptoms, such as vaginal discharge, itching, bleeding, burning.
If genital warts spread or become enlarged, the condition can be uncomfortable or even painful.
Prevention and protection
It is difficult to avoid contagion because warts can sit in several places and a person can carry the virus without knowing it.
But as with most sexually transmitted diseases, the risk of infection can be reduced significantly by the correct use of condoms and can be removed almost entirely by limiting sexual activities to a mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected person.
Once genital warts have been diagnosed:
- do not use wart treatment from a pharmacy – these are not made for genital warts
- do not smoke – many treatments for genital warts work better if you do not smoke
- do not have vaginal, anal or oral sex until the warts have gone – if you do, use a condom
Today, vaccination against condyloma is included in the general vaccination program. The FDA has expanded the age to receive the vaccine through age 45 years.
Treatment for genital warts needs to be prescribed by a doctor.
The type of treatment you’ll be offered depends on what your warts are like. The doctor or nurse will discuss this with you.
- cream or liquid: you can usually apply this to the warts yourself a few times a week for several weeks, but in some cases you may need to go to the clinic every week for a doctor or nurse to apply it – these treatments can cause soreness, irritation or a burning sensation
- surgery: a doctor or nurse can cut, burn or laser the warts off – this can cause irritation or scarring
- freezing: a doctor or nurse freezes the warts, usually every week for 4 weeks – this can cause soreness
It may take weeks or months for treatment to work, and the warts may come back. In some people the treatment does not work.
There’s no cure for genital warts, but it’s possible for your body to clear the virus over time.
When to consult a doctor
If you think you have genital warts you should consult a doctor or go to a sexual health clinic for diagnosis and treatment.
How APPOTEK can help
APPOTEK can help you with genital warts. A nurse or doctor will make an individual assessment based on your symptoms, then may prescribe treatment or refer you for further examination. In cases of genital warts, a physical examination may be required.