What are genital warts?
Genital warts are skin infections similar to common warts but there are around or on the penis, anus, vulva, urethra, vagina or cervix. It is one or more growths on the skin which are soft, fleshy, small growths on the skin.
How do they occur?
Like other types warts, genital warts are caused by a virus. Name of the virus that causes genital warts is human papillomavirus (HPV). There are many types of HPV. Types of human papillomavirus that usually cause genital warts are HPV-6 and HPV-11
Genital warts are more virulent, as compared to the other warts and they can easier be passed from infected person. They are transfered by skin to skin contact. Genital warts can spread to other parts of the body near the genitals and can be passed from one person to another during sexual activity. Warts are usually first visible 1-6 months after someone is infected with HPV. However, you can be infected with HPV without any visible warts.
What are the symptoms of genital warts?
Genital warts are small, grayish white or pinkish white growths. They usually appear as thin, flexible, solid bumps on the skin that look like real small cauliflowers. Some warts, however, are small and flat and may not be easy to spot.
Among women, genital warts can grow in the area of the vulva, the cervix, the vagina or urethra, or around the anus. Among men, wart can grow on top of or below the glans of penis and sometimes on the scrotum, in the urethra (the tube from which urine goes out of the body), or around the anus.
Sometimes genital warts can disappear without treatment. They, however, can grow and form larger cauliflower as wart clusters Often infections proceed without symptoms, or with occasional mild irritation, burning, itching, odor, pain during intercourse, vaginal discharge or bleeding.
When genital warts are in the cervix or in the vagina, they can not remain without noticeable symptoms. However, the Pap test may show changes in the cells that suggest a viral infection and your doctor can see them during the examination.
How to diagnose genital warts?
Your doctor will examine your skin and warts. An instrument called a colposcope will magnify areas so that your doctor can be sure that there is nothing wrong with the cervix. A tissue sample can be taken for laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis. Often warts that can not be seen are diagnosed when women have a Pap test.
How to treat genital warts?
The main methods of treatment are:
- placing drugs on warts
- removal by surgery
- freezing warts with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy)
- laser surgery
- burning warts with wire and electric current (electrocauter)
By removing warts you will not get rid of the virus. And because you still have the virus after treatment, other warts can re-grow. If you are planning to become pregnant, you should start wart removal treatment before you get pregnant. Warts should be checked by your doctor.
If you get genital warts while you are pregnant, you should not worry too much because HPV rarely affect the baby. However, warts tend to grow and you might get more of them during pregnancy.
Certain types of HPV infection of the cervix can lead to cancer of the cervix in women. HPV types of high risk cause growths that are usually flat and nearly invisible, as compared with the warts caused by HPV 6 and HPV 11. Keep your genitals always clean and dry. You can use a hair dryer to dry genital area. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching the area of the warts. Work Pap test as often as your doctor recommends.
Avoiding any sexual contact is the best way to prevent the spread of HPV.