Genital wart is an infectious skin condition caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Genital wart is an infectious skin condition caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Genital wart is an infectious skin condition caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The medical term for genital warts is ‘condyloma acuminata,’ and it is a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

A genital wart varies amongst patients. Genital warts may go away on their own or with treatment. They can last from a few months to years (with or without treatment), most of them take 2 years to clear up. Approximately, 30% of all warts will subside within the first 4 months of infection.

What is the treatment for genital warts?

Genital warts may go away without treatment. However, getting treatment can help because it

  • Resolves warts faster.
  • Reduces the odds of spreading the virus.
  • Relieves any pain and itching.

The choice of treatment depends on how many warts are there, where they are, your overall health status. The treatment can be medicinal creams or ointments, procedures, or injectables.

Medicinal creams/ointments (to be applied at home)

The following are available on a doctor’s prescription:

  • Podofilox (halts the growth of warts and after some time the wart falls off)
  • Imiquimod (increases the immunity to fight off the virus)
  • Green tea extract (contains an antiviral agent, sinecatechins) 

Procedures (to be done at a doctor’s office during the visit)

A dermatologist may perform one of these procedures that may require several sessions. These procedures include:

  • Excision: Cutting out warts from their base.
  • Electrocautery: Burning warts and destroying them by passing an electric current through them.
  • Cryosurgery: Freezing warts with liquid Nitrogen till they are destroyed.
  • Laser treatment: Destroying warts with laser light.

Antiviral injectable

If all other treatments fail, injections of an antiviral medicine (Interferon) are given directly into warts.

HPV is a chronic illness, and getting genital warts is only one of their signs. You can get rid of warts, but once you get an HPV, it stays with you forever.

How often do genital warts recur?

Most genital warts will recur within 3 months of infection, even after getting the appropriate treatments. Once you are infected with the virus, whatever treatments you take, it never goes away from your body.

The intervals in which genital warts recur depends on

  • Whether you have been vaccinated (with HPV vaccine).
  • The strength of your immunity.
  • The virus type (strain) you have.
  • The amount of virus in your blood.

How can you prevent the spread of genital warts?

You can reduce your risk of getting HPV and genital warts by taking a few preventive steps. Here is what you can do:

  • Get an HPV vaccine: This vaccine is for males and females between ages 9 to 26 years. This is given as three shots over 6 months, this vaccine can also help prevent certain types of cancer, including cervical cancer in women.
  • Use a condom during sex: Wearing a latex condom may help reduce the risk of getting genital warts from infected partners. Since it does not cover the entire area, the uncovered areas can still infect you.
  • Discuss each other’s (partner’s) health in sexual relationships: Ask your partner if they have any STDs, and you too need to discuss with them if you have any.
  • Refrain from smoking: There is evidence that smokers have more chances of getting genital warts than non-smokers.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/29/2020
References
Genital warts. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/genital-warts

Yanofsky VR, et al. Genital warts: a comprehensive review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012;5(6):25-36.

Genital warts. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/genital-warts-a-to-z

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