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STI's 2

Genital Warts treatment

Treatment depends on the type of warts. Some warts are soft and fleshy and others are hard to the touch.
Aldara is suitable for both types occurring in the genital and visible anal area. Warticon is for soft warts in the genitals only.

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are very common. In England, they are the second most common type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) after Chlamydia.

They are small fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes that appear in or around the vagina or anus, on the cervix, in the groin or thigh area, or on the penis or scrotum. Warts can also appear on your throat, tongue, mouth, or lips.

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) which can be passed on during vaginal, anal and, rarely, oral sex. Not everyone who has the virus develops genital warts. For most people, including those who have visible warts, the virus will be cleared from the body over time. It’s rare for genital warts to cause any long-term health problems.

However, they can be unpleasant to look at and cause psychological distress. Also, warts can present with itching and bleeding.

The types of HPV that cause visible genital warts do not cause genital cancer. 90% are caused by HPV types 6 or 11. Other strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer.

Fortunately, there is no evidence that your fertility will be affected by genital warts.

How will I know if I have genital warts?

A diagnosis of genital warts should only be made by a doctor or a nurse. Even if you or your partner is convinced that you have genital warts you really need it confirmed by a health care professional to make sure.

Even if a partner doesn’t have any visible warts, you may still have genital warts.

How are genital warts passed on?

The genital warts virus can be passed on by skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal, anal and, rarely, oral sex. The virus can also be passed to a baby from the mother at birth, but this is rare.

The virus can be transferred whether or not there are visible warts. Many people with the virus don't have symptoms but can still pass it on. If you have genital warts, your current sexual partners should get tested as they may have warts and not know it. If symptoms do appear, it can happen over a year after infection.

The virus won’t pass through a condom but as condoms don’t cover all of the genital area it’s possible to infect genital skin that’s not covered by the condom.

Warts can be easily spread from the genital area to the area around the anus without having anal sex.

How do I prevent the spread of genital warts?

You can prevent warts passing on by using a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex – but if the virus is present in skin not protected by a condom, it can still be passed on.

You should also not have sex while you're having treatment for genital warts.

What treatment is available?

For some people, genital warts may clear up on their own within two years but treatment helps speed up the process.

Over-the-counter wart removers won’t work on genital warts and may cause more discomfort. Genital warts require a special type of topical treatment. 

The most suitable treatment depends on the type of warts. Some warts are soft and fleshy and others are hard to the touch.

We have three medicine treatments for genital warts available.

We have Aldara wart treatment that is suitable for both soft and fleshy warts or those that are hard to the touch. Imiquimod is the active ingredient in Aldara.

Warticon is a solution or cream containing the active ingredient podophyllotoxin which helps to treat genital warts. Another product that contains podophyllotoxin in a solution form is Condyline.

How does the treatment work?

In theory, destruction of HPV-infected tissue, which causes the warts, prompts the immune system to mount a response and get rid of the warts spontaneously.

Will my warts come back?

The HPV virus can stay in your skin, and warts can develop again. Warts may go away without treatment but this can take many months.

When can I have sex after treatment?

You should not have sexual intercourse until you are fully healed and this applies to all forms of wart treatment. This may take up to four weeks after excision or laser surgery.

Are there any other forms of treatment available?

Although soft warts respond well to all medicinal treatments, hard warts may be better treated with physical surgical treatment such as cryotherapy, excision, electrocautery or laser treatment.

Cryotherapy

Involves using a liquid nitrogen spray or a probe to apply a freezing 'halo' a few millimetres round the warts which results in it being killed off by the body’s own immune system.

Excision

Is where warts are removed with a scalpel under local anaesthetic. The affected area can then be stitched up.

Electrocautery

uses an electrical current to heat a metal wire that is then applied to the wart in order to burn the treatment site and surrounding tissue.

Local anaesthetic creams plus or minus injection with an injectable local anaesthetic should be used before removal to minimise discomfort. 

Laser

Laser surgery may be done when  other medical treatments have failed. It’s also the preferred treatment when the warts are widespread. It’s is a safe treatment for pregnant women.

However, this specialist treatment is considerably more expensive than electrocautery.

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