Genital Warts

Penile Warts or papules

Genital warts also called venereal warts, papillomatosis or condyloma acuminata are a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).

This is one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infections (STI). Nearly all sexually active people will become infected with at least one type of HPV. These genital papules look like soft growths pink in color or flesh-colored, pearly bumps (typical is cauliflower-like appearance). HPV warts can be single or multiple with various sizes, from millimeters to 1 cm. They grow on the gland, penile shaft, scrotum, and the pubic area. In many cases, the warts are too small to be visible.

Genital warts generally appear one to eight months following exposure. Usually they cause few symptoms, but can occasionally be painful.

Some strains of genital HPV can cause genital warts, while others can cause cancer. HPV infection is especially dangerous for women because some types of HPV can cause cancer of the cervix and vulva. Warts do not have to be visible to spread the infection to the sexual partner.

Symptoms

The transmission of genital warts happens during sexual activity. They can become visible to the human eye only after several weeks or months. They may be very small. The top of the growths may look like a cauliflower. They may occur as a cluster of warts, or just one wart. Rarely, however, genital warts can multiply into large clusters, in someone with a suppressed immune system

Genital warts on males may appear in the following areas:

  • penis
  • scrotum
  • groin
  • thighs
  • inside or around the anus

For females, these warts may appear:

  • inside of the vagina or anus
  • outside of the vagina or anus
  • on the cervix

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.

In females, warts cannot be seen, and they may still cause symptoms, such as:

  • vaginal discharge
  • itching
  • bleeding
  • burning

If genital warts become enlarged, the condition can be uncomfortable or even painful and they can bleed during and after intercourse.

Treatment of genital warts

To get rid of genital warts we can use some creams that have to be spread over the affected skin. While multiple applications are needed, the results are not always curative, and the side effects can cause ulcers that delay the healing. Laser, cryo-ablation, or electro-cautery are effective treatments. However, the surveillance after treatment can early detect the recurrences. In fact, often the eradication of penile warts needs more than one session.