Are there dark, lumpy patches that appear around your genital area? Do these visible marks tend to annoy and cause you discomfort?
These unusual skin growths can be genital warts—a common type of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) diagnosed in one out of 100 sexually active adult Americans.
Genital warts are small lumps around your genital area. They tend to be rough and slightly bulged. They can also be visibly bothersome if they spread throughout your skin.
While they are harmless, these bumps are transferrable and have no cure.
The good news is that these warts are preventable. If you already have it, there are also a few measures to eliminate them from your body.
This article explains what genital warts are, how you can reduce the risk of acquiring them, and their right treatment.
Table of Contents
What are genital warts?
Before diving into how you can remove genital warts, let us first know what they are.
Genital warts, also known as venereal warts, are tiny, fleshy growths around the genitals and anus area.
The color of warts can be the same as your skin color or a little darker. They can appear in different spots around your genital area, isolated or in clusters.
Warts are slightly elevated from the surface, with unevenness that can get itchy and irritating.
Genital warts vs Fordyce spots
Before diving into how you can remove genital warts, let us first know what they are.
When it comes to distinguishing between genital warts and Fordyce spots, it’s essential to understand their characteristics to ensure accurate identification and appropriate treatment.
Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and appear as small, flesh-colored bumps or cauliflower-like growths in the genital area.
They are highly contagious and can be transmitted through sexual contact. On the other hand, Fordyce spots are harmless and non-contagious, visible as tiny, pale, white or yellowish spots on the skin.
These spots are sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing oils for the skin, and they can appear on the genitals as well.
Though both conditions may occur in the genital region, they differ significantly in their underlying causes and implications.
If you notice any concerning growths or spots in your genital area, it’s crucial to seek professional medical advice for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.
Dermatology experts at Team Dermatology MD can provide expert guidance and personalized treatment options tailored to your specific needs, ensuring your peace of mind and overall well-being.
How do you get genital warts?
Genital wart is a common STD primarily caused by HPV (human papillomavirus). You acquire it when you get in contact with someone infected with the virus, either through oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
The virus transmits to your body, regardless if there is ejaculation or none.
Additionally, genital warts can pass on to babies during vaginal childbirth, although these cases are uncommon.
If you want to know about genital warts, consult any Houston or Sugar Land skin expert who can recommend the proper examination.
Talk to us at Team Dermatology to learn about genital warts and how to eliminate them.
How genital warts are passed on
If you have genital warts, you can pass them on to others through intercourse—oral, anal, or vaginal-penile and vaginal-vaginal sex.
Once skin-to-skin contact is established during sex, HPV transfers to the other person. Another common way to pass HPV is through sharing of sex toys.
What are the symptoms of genital warts?
Genital warts can show visible signs on the surface of your skin, specifically in the vagina, penis, or anus.
They are rough, darker shade, and often lumpy. Some also appear as flat and have a cauliflower shape.
They also come with a few symptoms that affect the surrounding areas of your genitals, such as:
- Burning sensation
- Occasional bleeding
- Itching around the genital area
- Discomfort due to roughness
The virus may not be visible on the surface of your skin. It is best to seek advice from a dermatologist to know if you have the virus or not.
What causes genital warts?
This STD is caused by HPV, a viral infection that penetrates the skin and causes skin growths or warts.
While HPV causes genital warts, it does not mean that having these makes you more prone to developing cancer.
In the US, HPV is common among adults. Over 14 million cases are recorded annually.
How are genital warts diagnosed?
While visible marks around your genital area can signal an HPV infection, it is also possible that the virus won’t show any noticeable growth for years.
You can undergo tests to find out if you have HPV in your body so you know what treatment should be done to remove it.
A pap test, also called a pap smear, primarily detects cervical cancer in women and viruses in the cervix. This test gathers cells from the cervix on top of the vagina and inspects abnormal cells and signs of STDs.
An HPV test determines the presence of HPV in your reproductive system, which can cause genital warts and other conditions such as cervical cancer. The procedure is mostly the same as a pap smear with a collection of cells around the cervix.
How are genital warts treated?
Once HPV is detected in your body, now’s the time to focus on treatment. Removing genital warts is a decision you have to make, especially if you are sexually active.
HPV needs to be eliminated to prevent its spread to your partner. Treatment also reduces symptoms such as bleeding and discomfort.
However, if your genital warts do not cause pain or discomfort, you can opt not to undergo any treatment.
Eliminating the virus can be done in two ways—through medications or by undergoing an operation.
Medications for genital warts come as topical treatments.
Imiquimod (Aldara, Zyclara)
A cream that strengthens your immune system, this treatment fights off genital warts and prevents them from spreading.
Do not use this cream if you are having intercourse which might irritate your partner’s skin. It would be best if you also watch out for possible side effects upon application, such as skin redness, rashes, and blisters.
Podophyllin and podofilox (Condylox)
A plant-based treatment that eliminates the genital wart tissue. This solution is not advised during pregnancy and may leave side effects such as sores and mild irritation.
A chemical solution that burns both external and internal genital warts and anal and vaginal lesions. Its side effects include pain and skin irritation.
An ointment is applied to external genital warts and external anal warts. You may experience side effects such as a burning sensation and skin redness.
Your doctor may recommend an operation if you have the following:
- Warts that come in clusters
- Warts that are not removed by topical treatments
- If you are pregnant
The following are the types of surgery for genital warts removal.
Freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy)
Freezing with liquid nitrogen or cryotherapy is freezing the surroundings of your genital warts, resulting in a blister.
As the blister causes the skin to peel off, the wart also sheds, allowing the growth of new skin. This treatment can be done in series to ensure that the genital wart in the area is completely gone.
For the side effects, you may experience swelling and inflammation around the area which eventually heals in time.
Electrocautery is a method where an electrical current destroys your genital warts. After the surgery, you may have mild pain and swelling.
Surgical excision uses tools to remove your warts, such as a surgical blade or a spoon-shaped knife. The device scrapes off the skin growth and prevents it from coming back.
A beam of light burns off genital warts, especially the ones that come in groups and are already slightly protruded.
If you intend to remove your warts, talk to a dermatologist for the best recommendation. Your skin specialist may suggest topical treatment for small warts, while surgery may be the best option for genital warts that come in extensive forms.
Call Team Dermatology today and talk to our skin experts to know the best solution for you.
Home remedies for genital warts
You can find a solution to reduce genital warts at home, which does not require doctor’s consultation or expensive surgeries.
These are some of the simple home remedies you can try.
- Tea tree oil. Known as an antifungal agent, tea tree oil can reduce the size of your wart. Apply this in the affected area for several weeks before seeing the result.
- Witch hazel. A natural astringent used in the skin, witch hazel is found to have properties that can ward off HPV type 16, the strain that results in genital warts. However, witch hazel should only be used externally as it can irritate the vagina and anus.
- Apple cider vinegar. An effective cleaning solution, apple cider vinegar can treat genital warts by killing off the virus in the area.
- Vegetables. Changing your food choices may also reduce your genital warts if you are not into applying natural topical solutions. Consuming vegetables that are rich in indole-3-carbinol can be effective in clearing off warts. Eat vegetables rich in this substance, such as cauliflower, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
Before using these products mentioned above, it is best to try a skin test to ensure that there will be no skin irritation or pain that may lead to skin complications. Then, discontinue use and talk to a dermatologist if symptoms occur.
How long do genital warts last?
Genital warts can stay in your body for months to years, depending on your sexual activity and treatment.
When you have your genital warts removed, the HPV can still stay in your body and remain active. This explains why your warts may come back after a few months since they were removed.
If you completely remove all your genital warts and return to your skin clinic for regular checking, the HPV may disappear within two years.
When is someone with genital warts no longer contagious?
Genital warts will always be contagious as long as you have them. Even when all visible warts are removed, there is still a possibility that the virus is still active. The virus can still be transmitted to your partner during sex.
Risk factors for genital warts
Genital warts develop through skin-to-skin contact during sexual intercourse.
Find out of you are at risk of this STD in the following factors:
- Oral, vaginal, and anal sex with a partner infected with HPV
- Multiple sexual partners
- Sharing of sex toy
- Unprotected sex
- Early introduction to sex
How to prevent genital warts
You can acquire genital warts through sexual habits. Consider these preventive measures against genital warts.
- Get vaccinated against HPV
- Use condoms during sexual intercourse
- Limit sexual partners
- Avoid sharing sex toys
- Undergo routine testing against STDs
Get rid of your genital warts
If your genital warts have been bugging you, it is best to have them removed once and for all.
Team Dermatology provides genital warts removal procedures by the best skin specialists in Houston and Sugar Land, Texas.
Our board-certified dermatologists know how to identify the proper treatment for you. Topical treatments can be recommended, or you may have to undergo surgeries if genital warts have already invaded a huge surface of your skin.
Dermatology solutions are done with careful consideration of your skin condition. We customize every service so you can achieve the best results.