What Are Genital Warts?
Genital warts, also known as venereal warts, is one of the most frequently observed sexually transmitted diseases in both males and females. These warts appear as skin- or gray-colored overgrowth particularly in the genital and anal region, or on mucous membranes of the rectum, cervix, and vagina. Although genital warts can occur at any age, it is more common in individuals aged between 17 and 33 years.
Are Genital Warts Contagious?
These warts are extremely contagious in nature; a single sexual contact with someone who has genital warts can transfer the infection.
What Could Be The Common Causes For Genital Warts?
The primary cause of genital warts is a human papillomavirus infection (HPV). Of all types of HPV discovered till date, almost half of them have the potential to infect the genital area in humans.
How Would You Know If You Have Genital Warts?
Many individuals who are affected with HPV infection might not develop any visible warts, or it may take several weeks, months, or even years for them to be visible. The common symptoms of genital warts include:
-Small, gray-colored or skin-colored overgrowth or bumps in the genital area
-Cauliflower-like lumps observed in case of multiple warts
-Usually painless, but can cause itching or discomfort in the genital area
-Bleeding during sexual intercourse
-Disrupted urine flow
How Are Genital Warts Diagnosed?
Generally, a clinical examination, by visual inspection, is done to detect genital warts.
Some genital warts are small to be observed by a naked eye, thus, specific diagnostic tests (colposcopic examination or Pap smear) are required for their detection.
Additionally, a clinician might also remove a wart or part of it and send it to a laboratory to rule out various atypical lesions or in case of an uncertain diagnosis.
Can Genital Warts Be Treated? If yes, Then How?
-The mainstay treatment option for genital warts is to remove the underlying symptoms (cosmetic reasons, human papillomavirus infection, etc.) by performing a surgery and removing genital warts.
-A number of creams, gels, and ointments are available, which are formulated to kill or reduce the number of warts present.
-Anti-viral therapy is also initiated if other treatments fail to work.
-Surgical treatment such as cryotherapy is another common approach which helps to freeze warts off from the affected area.
-Acid solutions (containing trichloroacetic or bichloroacetic acid) are effective for small, moist warts, and can be applied on vaginal and anal warts.
How Can Genital Warts Be Prevented?
Apart from treatment, some preventive strategies also reduce the risk of developing genital warts:
-Avoid any kind of sexual contact with an individual who already has genital warts or other viral infection
-Avoid having multiple sexual partners
-Use barrier methods of contraception (condoms, etc.) to avoid getting a sexually-transmitted disease.
-Get an HPV vaccination in order to protect yourself from this highly contagious disease.