Genital Warts - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

By: Juliet Cohen

Genital warts are soft wart-like growths on the genitals caused by a viral skin disease. Genital warts caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV is a transmitted infection (STI). Genital warts also called venereal warts. Genital warts may be small, flat, flesh-colored bumps or tiny, cauliflower-like bumps. Genital warts are a type of transmitted disease (STD). Most people who acquire those strains never develop warts or any other symptoms. HPV also causes many cases of cervical cancer; types 16 and 18 account for 70% of cases. Genital warts can be passed from person to person through intimate contact. In men, genital warts can grow, near the anus, or between the scrotum. In women, genital warts may grow on the vulva and perineal area, in the and on the cervix. HPV infection also is associated with the development of other anogenital cancers in women. The HPV types that cause cervical cancer also have been linked with both anal and penile cancer in men as well as a subgroup of head and neck cancers in both women and men. Most patients with genital warts are seen between the ages of 17-33 years. Genital warts are highly contagious.

HPV grows well in the moist genital area.

HPV infection appears to be more common and worse in patients with various types of immunologic deficiencies. Warts on the outer genitals are easily recognized. They are raised, flesh-colored lesions that may occur singly or in clusters. Left untreated, warts may rapidly enlarge, taking on a "cauliflower-like" appearance.Multiple simultaneous lesions are common and may involve subclinical states as well as different anatomic sites. Subclinical infections have an infectious and oncogenic potential. Consider the possibility of abuse in pediatric cases; however, remember that infection by direct manual contact or, rarely, by indirect transmission from fomites may occur. Additionally, passage through an infected canal at birth may cause respiratory lesions in infants. Many Symptoms of Genital Warts. Genital warts are painless, they may be bothersome because of their location, size, or due to itching. The size may range from less than one millimeter across to several square centimeters when many warts join together.Men and women with genital warts will often complain of painless bumps, itching, and discharge.

Genital warts must be treated by a doctor. Carbon dioxide laser treatment is used for extensive or recurrent genital warts. Podophyllin and podofilox should not be used during pregnancy, as they are absorbed by the skin and may cause birth defects in the fetus. 5-fluorouracil cream should not be used while trying to become pregnant or if there is a possibility of pregnancy. Antiviral drug interferon-alpha directly into the warts, to treat warts that have returned after removal by traditional means. Surgical treatments include cryosurgery, electrocauterization, laser therapy, or cutting them out. Cryosurgery is technique freezes the wart using liquid nitrogen or a "cryoprobe." Electrodesiccation technique uses an electric current to destroy the warts. It can be done in the office with local anesthesia. The resulting smoke plume may be infectious. Imiquimod (Aldara) cream appears to boost your immune system's ability to fight genital warts. Avoid contact while the cream is on your skin. It may weaken condoms and diaphragms and may irritate your partner's skin. Condoms offer some protection against genital warts, but they can't completely prevent them because the warts can be outside of the area protected by the condom. Spermicidal foams, creams, and jellies have not been proven to protect against HPV and genital warts. Avoid STDs by having a monogamous relationship with a partner known to be disease-free.

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