Genital warts are a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They are very common, and are most often reported amongst 17 to 33 year olds, though they can occur in both men and women of all ages. Genital warts are categorised as small, fleshy growths of varying colour which occur on or around the genital area.
Genital warts are extremely contagious; a sexual partner of an infected individual has a 60% chance of contracting the infection. This reason in particular makes it important to treat the infection at the earliest opportunity. Though it is not possible to completely cure HPV after you are infected, there are genital warts treatments available that can help to treat outbreaks. It is likely that, if you have been infected with HPV, you will continue to experience outbreaks occasionally in the future.
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You may not realise that you have been infected straight away. Some people do not experience an outbreak until several months after the infection occurred, though for others it can occur within two weeks. The first signs of the infection are the fleshy growths which will appear on or around the genital or anal area. These growths may be in a group, or they could occur individually. In terms of appearance, they could be small or large and rough or smooth. They are not usually painful but some people report that they are itchy. In some cases, the warts develop inside the urethra in men or the vagina for women. If this occurs, you will not be able to see any visible signs of an infection.
The infection itself is caused by the HPV virus, which is spread through sexual activity. The specific strains of HPV that cause 90% of cases of genital warts are HPV-6 and HPV-11 and are considered “low risk” in terms of their potential to cause cancer. Strains of HPV that are “high risk” and contain the potential risk of cancer include HPV-16, which is not linked to outbreaks of genital warts.
In most cases, genital warts are unpleasant or uncomfortable but not dangerous, and there are effective genital warts treatments available to help. If you find that the warts are blocking the opening to the urethra so you cannot urinate, you should see a doctor to have them removed. You should also see a doctor if the genital warts begin to bleed uncontrollably.
There are both surgical and medical genital warts treatments available, though it is important to note that while the warts can be removed or treated, the HPV virus is not curable. This means that outbreaks can occur in the future.
Popular choices of genital wart treatment include prescription creams like Aldara, Warticon and Condyline. Though over-the-counter genital warts treatments exist, they are not recommended because the genital area is very sensitive and such treatments might not be suitable. It is also possible to burn off the warts, but this can only be done by a doctor using the chemical trichloroacetic acid.
Surgery is an option for genital warts treatment, but only for especially large warts or for pregnant women. These surgeries can involve laser treatments, liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy to freeze off the warts) and electrocautery, which means using an electrical current to burn off the warts.
"A very common viral STI, genital warts are characterised by fleshy growths on and around the genital area or anus. The infection can’t be cured but can be managed with a number of treatments."Dr Hilary Jones
HealthExpress Medical Advisor
There are several genital warts treatment creams available on prescription such as Aldara, Condyline and Warticon. Over-the-counter treatments are not recommended as they may not be suitable for the sensitivity of the genital area. The chemical trichloroacetic acid can be used as a genital warts removal treatment by burning off the warts, but this can only be applied by a doctor.
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Yes. You simply need to complete a free online consultation to determine that the genital warts treatment that you choose will be safe and effective for you. This quick consultation will include questions about your medical condition and history and will be assessed by one of our doctors. If the genital warts treatment is suitable, you will be issued a prescription which will be sent to our pharmacy, which will dispatch your genital warts treatment via overnight delivery.