Genital warts and are caused by one of the most common viruses in the United States - the human papillomavirus. There are more than 100 types of HPV. Thirty-five types infect the genitals.
The warts are soft, fleshy bumps that vary in size and shape. They can appear on or around the penis or the scrotum - the pouch of skin that contains the testicles. They can also appear on or around the vagina, anus, mouth or inside the body where they can't easily be seen. The warts will be the color of your skin and cauliflower-shaped. Only 5 percent of people have warts that can be seen with the naked eye.How can I get HPV?
HPV is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact with someone who is infected. You can get HPV from someone who has warts on his or her mouth, skin or genitals. The genital wart virus can still rub off a person's skin even when he or she has no warts that you can see. Remember: You can get or give warts even when both of you have no signs or symptoms.What are the signs and symptoms?
The majority of people with the genital wart virus (HPV) have no signs and symptoms of infection.
Warts:Usually appear one to three months after you are exposed, but it may take longer. Begin as small red bumps that may grow larger. In men and women, they can appear on any damp or moist areas of your body. This includes your vagina or vulva, penis, and anus. They are usually painless, but if the warts are injured, they may become painful or tender when touched.
Sometimes the virus may cause an unusual fluid (discharge) from your vagina or an itchy vulva. The vulva is the outer part of a woman's genitals.Is there a cure?
No. HPV is a chronic, lifelong infection. However, as many as one out of every three people with genital warts find that they go away on their own - usually within two years. There are a variety of methods for removing warts. If you want your warts removed, do not do it yourself, visit a health care provider who will:Freeze them with liquid nitrogen, or Use laser surgery, or Destroy them with a chemical or acid medicine.
Or your provider may prescribe a medicine that you can apply yourself. It is called imiquimod (I mi kwi' mod) or Aldara™ cream. Aldara helps the body use its own strength (immune system) to destroy the virus. You can apply Aldara directly to your warts. But, do not use Aldara for warts on the cervix or inside the vagina.
None of these treatments cure the virus. Even if your warts disappear, they may return because the virus may be hidden in nearby, normal looking skin.What about my partner(s)?
HPV is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Because of this, your sex partners should be checked for symptoms. Even though your partners may not have symptoms that can be seen, they still need to be checked for HPV and other STDs.
DR. Violet Rae Albright MD