Genital warts are a virally transmitted skin disease
characterized by soft wart-like growths on the genitals.
Officially known as Condylomata Acuminata, Genital Warts is a form
of the Human Papilloma Virus. These warts are one of the most
prevalent forms of sexually transmitted disease.
Annually, approximately 5.5 million new cases of the Genital Human
Papilloma Virus are reported. It is believed that of the roughly 20
million Americans known to have genital HPV, less than 4% have been
diagnosed with or are being treated for the virus.
Signs you may have genital warts
These warts can take on several appearances, including that which
actually resembles a common wart. They can appear as tiny swollen
growths in the genital area that are pink or red in color depending
on level of irritation. This can be accompanied by a burning or
itching sensation. A group of these warts that grow close together
can take on a roughened cauliflower type appearance, such as that of
a common hand wart. Genital warts
symptoms may also be flat growths that can
only be detected with a magnifying device by your doctor.
Genital warts differ from the common wart in where they grow—in the
warm, moist genital areas of the body. For men wart growth is common
on the head of the penis, the shaft of the penis, or randomly on the
scrotum or around the anus. For women, genital warts can develop on
the vulva or anus. Women may also develop genital warts on their
cervix, which is only detectable through an exam by a gynecologist.
In both sexes, there have been instances of genital warts growing on
the inner thigh or general groin area.
Genital warts and how to treat them
While there is no known cure for the Human Papilloma Virus, it is
possible that medical treatment of genital warts can cure the virus
that caused the initial outbreak. While the physical signs of
genital warts may disappear on their own over time, similar to a
common wart or plantar wart, there are ways of treating the
The physical symptoms of genital warts are often times treated with
medications or surgery to expedite removal of the physical signs of
the virus. Even after treatment, visible signs of genital warts may
Topical treatments for genital warts
Topical treatments such as Aldara are available by prescription, which may
Imiquimod, Podofilox, and Trichloroacetic acid. It is not
recommended to use over the counter treatments designed for other
types of warts, as they can actually cause increased irritation, and
will have no affect on the removal of the wart.
Genital warts surgical options
Should topical solutions fail to effectively remove the visual signs
of genital warts, some surgical options are available, which include
electrocautery (burning and sealing with electrically charged
probes), laser treatment (burning the warts off with a high
intensity laser), and Cryosurgery (freezing the genital wart with
liquid nitrogen, similar to the treatment of a common wart).
Antiviral drugs for treating genital warts
A more expensive treatment is via the injection of an antiviral drug
known as Interferon, which is injected by needle directly into the
warts. This treatment is usually used as an alternative when genital
warts have reappeared after being removed by surgery. Even after
treatment by Interferon, there is no guarantee that visual genital
warts will not return.