Genital warts are a symptom of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). They develop as soft growths and small bumps in both men and women, most commonly on the genitals, cervix, and around the rectum, typically due to unprotected sexual activity. Some warts caused by HPV may also develop on the lips and inside the mouth following oral sex.
Genital warts can be itchy or painful. They may also adversely affect the patient’s intimate relationships and psychological health. The good news is that this condition is treatable with several clinical options.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where do Genital Warts Occur?
- 2 What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Warts?
- 3 How can genital warts be prevented?
- 4 How Do Genital Warts Usually Develop?
- 5 What Are The Risk Factors Of Genital Warts?
- 6 Complications of Genital Warts
- 7 How are Genital Warts Diagnosed?
- 8 How Are Genital Warts Treated?
- 9 Cost of Genital Warts Treatment
- 10 Our Skin Specialist
- 11 Book a Consultation
Where do Genital Warts Occur?
In women, genital warts may develop:
- Outside or inside the vagina
- Around the anus
- On the cervix
- Inner thighs
And in men, genital warts may form:
- On the tip or shaft of the penis
- On the scrotum
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Warts?
The most distinguishable symptom of HPV genital warts is the appearance of growths or lumps on and around the genitals and anus. Nonetheless, in some cases, you may continue to carry HPV without having any warts. In such a case, only a clinical exam can tell whether you are infected by the virus.
Signs and symptoms of genital warts include:
- Brown, pink, or flesh-colored swellings on the genitals
- Cauliflower-shaped growths, usually as a result of multiples warts occurring together
- Pain or itchiness in the genitals
- Bleeding during sex
Sometimes, genital warts develop long after contact with someone infected with HPV. In such a case, you may never know when you came into contact with the virus.
How can genital warts be prevented?
Using a condom for sex significantly reduces the risk of genital warts. However, you may still be exposed to the risk of HPV infection to some degree, as a condom won’t cover your entire genital skin.
Another way to prevent or reduce the risk of genital warts is HPV vaccination. Gardasil 9, an HPV vaccine, has been found to significantly reduce the risk of genital warts and cervical precancerous lesions caused by certain HPV strains for about ten years.
As a rule of thumb, you should go for a lab test every few months, especially if you are sexually active. This will help rule out the risk of HPV infection.
How Do Genital Warts Usually Develop?
Genital warts primarily develop due to sexual contact with someone infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). It should be noted that while HPV can affect the mouth and throat, warts in these areas are less common than genital warts.
Many types of HPV can cause genital warts, with types 6 and 11 being the most commonly associated. Moreover, it is entirely possible that you carry these viruses but do not have genital warts. In that case, you will still pass the virus to your partner, and, as a result, they could develop these warts.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Genital Warts?
Factors that make you more susceptible to having genital warts include the following:
- Having a weaker immune system, genetically or due to a disease like HIV
- Having another type of sexually transmitted infection
- Engaging in unprotected sexual activity with more than one partner
- Being sexually active, especially at a young age
Complications of Genital Warts
HPV infection that leads to genital warts can cause multiple complications. The most common complications include the following:
- Cancer: Genital HPV infection may increase the cancer risk. Certain types of HPV may lead to cancer development in the penis, vulva, anus, mouth, and throat. It is pertinent to note that HPV infections only sometimes lead to cancer. Still, routine checkups are vital, particularly for individuals carrying HPV.
- Issues during pregnancy: Genital warts can enlarge and cause difficulty urinating during pregnancy. Warts on the vaginal walls also restrict the stretching of vaginal tissues and may bleed during childbirth.
How are Genital Warts Diagnosed?
A physical examination is a standard procedure to diagnose genital warts. The doctor will visually analyze the lesion during this examination and ask questions regarding your medical and sexual history. They may also remove the wart and send it to the lab for further analysis.
Several tests may be performed to determine if you have genital warts. Those tests may include the following:
Pelvic exam: A pelvic exam may be performed through a Pap test or colposcopy. A Pap test is primarily used to identify changes in the cervix that could indicate HPV infection. A colposcopy helps examine the vagina and can perform a small biopsy to collect the tissue for further examination.
Anal exam: An anal exam is usually carried out using an anoscope, which can help look into the anal canal and identify abnormal growths, including genital warts.
How Are Genital Warts Treated?
While some genital warts go away on their own, many may persist. It is recommended to seek treatment for genital warts even if they appear to clear up on their own. This is because most genital warts treatments lower the risk of virus transmission, relieve pain and discomfort, and keep the area clean.
That said, over-the-counter medications for warts are not recommended because these medications are more suited for other types of HPV warts.
Treatments usually suggested for genital warts include the following:
Medications for genital warts mostly include topical medicines. The most common prescription medications include:
- Podofilox – This topical medication is used for treating external genital warts, working by destroying the tissue of the wart itself.
- Imiquimod – This cream is applied to the warts and works by stimulating the body’s immune system to fight the HPV virus.
- Sinecatechins (a green tea extract ointment) – This ointment is used for the treatment of external genital and anal warts, utilizing compounds extracted from green tea.
This treatment involves freezing the genital warts with liquid nitrogen, which destroys the wart cells. A dermatologist applies a very cold substance, usually liquid nitrogen, to the wart and surrounding area during this procedure. This process can cause mild to moderate burning sensation in the treated area.
In some cases, genital warts on the penis, vagina, or around the anus may be removed through excision. In this procedure, the wart is surgically cut off using a sharp instrument, typically under local anesthesia.
Your doctor may prescribe laser therapy to treat genital warts. This procedure involves directing a laser beam at the genital warts, burning their cells. Types of lasers commonly used to treat these warts include Pulsed Dye Lasers (PDL) and Erbium Yag Lasers.
This procedure involves burning the wart on the penis, vagina, or around the anus using a low-voltage electric probe. This treatment is usually performed under local anesthesia to avoid pain.
Cost of Genital Warts Treatment
The starting cost of genital warts treatment in Dubai averages AED 1500. The exact price can vary from case to case, depending on the following factors:
- Size of the affected area
- Severity of lesions
- Treatment option selected
- Practitioner’s expertise
- Geographic location and reputation of the clinic or treatment facility
Our Skin Specialist
Book a Consultation
Dubai Cosmetic Surgery Clinic is a top-rated medical-cosmetic care facility offering effective wart treatment in Dubai. For details, please call +971 4 348 5575. You can also book a consultation online by filling out the form provided below.
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