Genital warts form in the genital region of both men and women, and spread through intimate contact with someone who has the human papilloma virus, or HPV.
Genital Wart Causes
Genital warts typically spread through direct skin to skin contact. Some warts occur as early as one month after exposure while others may take years to appear. An infected mother may also pass the warts to her baby through childbirth.
Most healthy individuals don’t develop genital warts even after exposure to HPV, but smokers and those with a weakened immune system are at a higher risk.
Genital Wart Signs & Symptoms
Genital warts come in different shapes and sizes and may appear as a single wart or in clusters resembling a cauliflower. They can be flat or raised and some are so small they are difficult to see. Most genital warts are flesh colored, pink, red or gray.
Not all genital warts cause symptoms but when present, symptoms may include:
Genital warts can develop in the following areas:
- Vaginal walls
- Groin or thigh
- Anus or anal region
Diagnosing Genital Warts
Genital warts may be diagnosed through a visual examination or your dermatologist may remove the wart and send it to the lab for testing.
Genital Wart Treatment
Some genital warts resolve on their own, but professional diagnosis and treatment helps relieve symptoms and prevent spread of the virus. Over-the-counter wart medications are not effective against this type of wart, but your dermatologist may recommend the following treatments:
- Podofilox/Podophyllin: A solution that is applied to external warts to stop them from growing
- Imiquimod (Aldara, Zyclara): A topical cream that boosts the immune system so it can fight the virus
Procedures performed in the Dermatology Clinic:
- Cryosurgery: Application of liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the wart(s)
- Surgical excision: Cutting away the warts
- Electrocautery: Uses an electrical current to burn away warts
- Laser Therapy: Destruction of warts perform with laser
Prevention and Management of Genital Warts
HPV vaccines are available for those between the ages of 9 and 25, and commonly administered through your primary care provider. Other ways to reduce the risk of HPV include:
- Using latex condoms during sex
- Limiting sex partners
- Stopping smoking
Dr. Aboutalebi is a board certified dermatologist who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of genital warts and other skin lesions. At Northstar Dermatology, we treat patients from Keller, Fort Worth, North Richland Hills and surrounding areas in North Texas. Call our dermatology clinic today at 817-427-3376 to schedule your consultation.