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Genital warts: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About genital warts

This is a type of sexually transmitted disease, which is caused by a group of viruses called Human Papilloma virus. It is characterized by small cauliflower like growth in genital areas of men and women.

Genital warts: Incidence, Age and Sex

Genital wart is a common occurrence in the general population. It is more commonly seen in young adults with a higher frequency in women as compared to men.

Signs and symptoms of genital warts: Diagnosis

The clinical features of a genital wart usually appear a long time after exposure (history of sexual contact). Most of the affected individuals are asymptomatic. However, even asymptomatic but infected individuals may spread this infection. The clinical features of genital warts include presence of tiny cauliflower-like growth either singularly or in clusters over genital area. Such warts are painless and may be seen on foreskin, shaft or head of penis in men and on vagina, vulva and cervix in women. Anal region of both men and women may also get affected with warty growth. Sometimes these warts are microscopic in size and cannot be detected with naked eye. Rarely, an affected individual may complain of irritation or bleeding around warty growth.

A detailed genital examination in itself is sufficient to diagnose the condition and no tests may be needed to corroborate the diagnosis. However it is advisable to get a Pap smear done in affected women to detect any abnormal changes in the cervical area.

Causes and prevention of genital warts

Genital warts are caused by a group of viruses called Human papilloma virus which are of several different types. It is transmitted from person to person through sexual contact. Certain factors may increase the chances of getting this viral infection. Such factors include early age of commencement of sexual practice, multiple sexual partners, pregnancy, smoking and excessive use of alcohol.

A few preventive measures, like using condoms during sexual intercourse, avoidance of unsafe sexual practices and multiple partners may diminish the incidence of genital warts. Furthermore a vaccine is also available against human papilloma virus which is recommended for young women.

Genital warts: Complications

Genital warts in women may sometimes cause damage to the cervical tissue and results in its precancerous changes. This may subsequently progress to cancer of cervix in some women.

Genital warts: Treatment

Various treatment modalities are available to eliminate the genital warts. The type of treatment depends upon the exact site and size of genital wart. Cryosurgery with liquid nitrogen or chemical cautery with podophyllin can be done if warts are small in size. Larger warts may need laser ablation or surgical excision. Thus, warts can be effectively removed. However, it is unfortunate that no medication can effectively eradicate the offending virus and it usually remains in the body lifelong. Regular follow-up examination is advisable especially in women who need to get a Pap smear done regularly to detect any precancerous changes in cervix.