Genital warts are a virally transmitted skin disease characterized by soft wart-like growths on the genitals.
Officially known as Condylomata Acuminata, Genital Warts is a form of the Human Papilloma Virus. These warts are one of the most prevalent forms of sexually transmitted disease.
Annually, approximately 5.5 million new cases of the Genital Human Papilloma Virus are reported.
It is believed that of the roughly 20 million Americans known to have genital HPV, less than 4% have been diagnosed with or are being treated for the virus.
Signs you may have genital warts
These warts can take on several appearances, including that which actually resembles a common wart.
They can appear as tiny swollen growths in the genital area that are pink or red in color depending on level of irritation.
This can be accompanied by a burning or itching sensation. A group of these warts that grow close together can take on a roughened cauliflower type appearance, such as that of a common hand wart.
Genital warts symptoms may also be flat growths that can only be detected with a magnifying device by your doctor.
Genital warts differ from the common wart in where they grow—in the warm, moist genital areas of the body.
For women, genital warts can develop on the vulva or anus.
Women may also develop genital warts on their cervix, which is only detectable through an exam by a gynecologist.
In both sexes, there have been instances of genital warts growing on the inner thigh or general groin area.
Genital warts and how to treat them
While there is no known cure for the Human Papilloma Virus, it is possible that medical treatment of genital warts can cure the virus that caused the initial outbreak.
While the physical signs of genital warts may disappear on their own over time, similar to a common wart or plantar wart, there are ways of treating the symptoms.
The physical symptoms of genital warts are often times treated with medications or surgery to expedite removal of the physical signs of the virus. Even after treatment, visible signs of genital warts may reappear.
Topical treatments for genital wart
Topical treatments such as Aldara are available by prescription, which may Imiquimod, Podofilox, and Trichloroacetic acid.
It is not recommended to use over the counter treatments designed for other types of warts, as they can actually cause increased irritation, and will have no affect on the removal of the wart.
Genital warts surgical option
Should topical solutions fail to effectively remove the visual signs of genital warts, some surgical options are available, which include electrocautery (burning and sealing with electrically charged probes), laser treatment (burning the warts off with a high intensity laser), and Cryosurgery (freezing the genital wart with liquid nitrogen, similar to the treatment of a common wart).
Antiviral drugs for treating genital warts
A more expensive treatment is via the injection of an antiviral drug known as Interferon, which is injected by needle directly into the warts.
This treatment is usually used as an alternative when genital warts have reappeared after being removed by surgery. Even after treatment by Interferon, there is no guarantee that visual genital warts will not return.