Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What are genital
Genital warts may be small, flat, flesh-colored
bumps or tiny, cauliflower-like bumps. In men, genital warts can grow on the
penis, near the anus or between the penis and the scrotum. In women, genital
warts may grow on the vulva and perineal area, in the vagina and on the cervix.
Genital warts vary in size and may even be so
small that you can't see them. They may lead to cancer of the cervix in women or
cancer of the penis in men. Genital warts are caused by the Human papillomavirus
How do you get
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The
most common way to get HPV is by having sex with someone who has HPV. The only
way to make sure you don't get it is to avoid having sex at all, or to have sex
only with someone who doesn't have HPV and is only having sex with you.
Just because you can't see warts on your partner
doesn't mean your partner doesn't have HPV. The infection can have a long
incubation period, meaning months can pass between the time a person is infected
with the virus and the time a person notices warts in the genital area.
Sometimes, the warts can take years to develop. And, in women, the warts may be
where you can't see them--inside the body, on the surface of the cervix.
Using condoms may prevent you from catching HPV
from someone who has it. However, condoms can't always cover all of the affected
How are the warts
If you notice warts in your genital area, see
your doctor. Your doctor may be able to diagnose the warts just by examining
you. If the warts are small, your doctor may put a vinegar-like liquid on the
skin around the warts and then use a magnifying glass to look for warts. The
liquid makes the warts turn white, so they show up better.
Can genital warts be
The warts can be removed, but the viral
infection itself can't be cured. The virus goes on living inside your skin. This
is why the warts often return after they have been removed, and you may need to
have them removed again.
How are genital warts
One way to remove the warts is to freeze them.
This is called cryotherapy. The warts can also be taken off with a laser.
A new treatment, called the loop electrosurgical
excision procedure (LEEP), can be used to remove the warts. With this method of
removal, a sharp instrument shaped like a loop is passed underneath the wart and
the wart is cut out of the skin.
Special chemicals can be used to remove the
warts. These chemicals dissolve warts in the genital area. They may have to be
applied to the area a number of times over a period of several weeks before the
treatment is complete.
Chemicals you can buy at the store to remove
warts from your hands shouldn't be used for this purpose. They can make
your genital skin very sore.