Genital warts are sexually transmitted infections that results in a soft growth on the skin and mucous membrane of the genital area. It may be found on the vagina, cervix, vulva or penis. They are the most common sexually transmitted infections in the united states.
There are more than 100 different types of Human Papilloma Virus HPV, most of which are not harmful. About 30 of these viruses are spread sexually and may be classified as either low risk or high risk. Some types of HPV cause genital warts in both men and women. These are mainly the low risk types. The high risk types cause an abnormal pap smear and leads to cancers of the cervix, anus, vagina, vagina, vulva or penis.
Genital warts affect both men and women even though it is more common in women.
Genital warts are usually asymptomatic although the warts may cause itching , tenderness or burning of the genital area.
These warts look like
- small scattered bumps that are skin color or a bit darker
- growths that look like the top of a cauliflower
- growth in the genital area that can be smooth or rough and raised or flat
Some people get a few warts and others get many more. Places where genital warts usually occur include:
Occasional people can develop warts in the mouth or throat after engaging in sex with an infected person.
NOTE : Even if you don’t have any symptoms, you can still spread HPV to your sexual partners.
TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS
Genital warts may be diagnosed visually during a pelvic exam. In the case of invisible genital warts, your doctor can also apply vinegar (acetic acid) to areas of your body that might be infected. This causes the infected areas to whiten which makes them more visible.
If you are a women with genital warts, your doctor will check you for HPV infection of the cervix. The infection can be diagnosed based on an abnormal pap smear result. The doctor may also take a small sample of your cervical tissue and examine it under a microscope ( biopsy).
An HPV DNA test is done to check if you have a high-risk type of HPV known to cause cervical cancer.
Treatment option for genital warts depends on it’s size and location. These include using
- 0.5 percent podofilox solution
- 5 percent 5-fluorouracil cream
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)
- Imiquimod cream
- 20 percent podophyllin antimitotic solution
Donot use podophyllin or podofilox if pregnant. They get absorbed in the skin and cause birth defects. You should also not use 5-fluorouracil cream when pregnant.
Small warts can be removed by the following procedures
- Freezing (cryosurgery)
- Burning (electrocautery)
- Laser treatment
Interferon which an antiviral medication may be injected into genital warts. This is usually used if all other treatments fails.
Larger warts that do not respond to other treatments may be removed by surgery. Getting rid of warts does not get rid of the virus. So warts often come back.
Cancer : Some types of HPV causes cervical cancer. Other types cause vulva, anal and oral cancers.
Pregnancy : Warts found in the vagina may make the vagina less elastic and cause obstruction during delivery.
Abstinence is the best way to prevent genital warts and other sexually transmitted infections.
There are vaccines are available that protect against four of the HPV types that cause most cervical cancers in women. Both vaccines , Gardasil and Cervarix are highly effective in preventing persistent infection with HPV types 16 and 18, two “high-risk” HPVs that cause most (70 percent) of cervical cancers. Gardasil is also effective against types 6 and 11, which cause of almost all of genital warts.
Both vaccines are safe and effective for females ages 9 through 26 years. Gardasil is also recommended for boys and young men ages 9 through 26 years.
Note that both male and female condoms may not fully protect you from genital warts. This is because the virus or warts can be on nearby skin.Displayed Title Goes Here
Genital warts: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e—h/genital-warts/diagnosis-treatment. Accessed January 10, 2014
Genital warts : Treatment guidelines. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Accessed January 10, 2014
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Genital Warts : Prevention. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/genitalWarts/understanding/Pages/prevention.aspx. Accessed January 10, 2014
Genital warts in women (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/genital-warts-in-women-beyond-the-basics. Accessed January 10, 2014
The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved January 2014 from Dictionary.com website.http://dictionary.reference.com.