Genital wart: causes, symptoms, treatment and remedies

What is genital wart?

Genital warts are signs that can appear on the entire length of the genitals of men and women. They are caused by some subtypes of the Human Papillomavirus, better known as HPV .

They are considered a relatively common Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). It is estimated that, in the United States alone, it reaches about 360 thousand people per year. They can be transmitted through any type of unprotected sexual contact, including oral sex.

Although genital warts are easily treatable and, in general, do not cause more serious complications, they deserve special attention precisely because they are symptoms of HPV infection. The virus, in turn, is considered one of the most common STDs in the world, affecting about 80% of the world’s sexually active population.

Among the possible complications of HPV is the development of some types of cancer , including that of the penis, urethra, vulva and cervix.

What is the difference between common and genital warts?

Clinically, the so-called common warts are those that come out in different parts of the body, such as the face, hands and feet, for example.

What few people know is that both common warts and those that appear on Organs genitals have a common denominator: the Human Papillomavirus, better known as HPV. The similarities, however, end there.

There are more than 150 types of HPV cataloged, each with a propensity to develop in a different part of the body. The virus subtype that attacks one organ does not have the capacity to infect another.

The types responsible for infecting anus and genitals, in the overwhelming majority of cases, are HPV-6 and HPV-11, which cause about 90% of infections, although subtypes HPV-16, HPV-18, HPV-31 and HPV-35 also cause genital warts. Those that attack the skin are usually HPV-2 and HPV-4.

This means that people who have common warts are not necessarily at risk of developing certain types of cancer or transmitting HPV through sexual contact, although this type of ulceration is also caused by a variation of the virus, since the subtypes that cause cancer and the ones that cause warts on the skin are different.

Genital warts are highly contagious through unprotected sex. The HPV that acts as the causative agent in these cases can lead to the development of cancer in the cervix, penis or rectum. Therefore, it can be said that genital warts are a symptom of HPV infection.

Types of genital warts

Condylomata acuminata

These are classic warts, which are already in the popular imagination. They are vascularized and, in general, pink.

Flat condylomas

As the name suggests, they are flat, with a smooth surface. They may be white or pink in color.

Subclinical condylomata

Subclinical condylomata are warts that cannot be seen with the naked eye. They can only be diagnosed through specific tests involving the application of a solution, which changes the color of the ulcerations and makes them visible.

Buschke-Lowenstein condylomata

They are very large warts, which, in some cases, can only be removed with surgical intervention.

Causes

The main cause of the development of genital warts is HPV infection , and more than 40 types of the virus can manifest themselves through the appearance of ulcerations in the genitals.

Genital warts are considered to be clinical manifestations of HPV contamination.

Is every genital wart HPV?

Yes, all genital warts are caused by HPV . What can change is the subtype of the virus that is causing the problem. It is important to note that not all types of HPV cause genital warts.

It is common for the patient to confuse other benign dermatological signs with warts. In such cases, yes, the manifestation may have nothing to do with HPV. Therefore, it is important to consult a gynecologist or urologist as soon as you notice the appearance of any foreign element in the region of the vagina, penis or anus.

Other sexually transmitted diseases, such as herpes and syphilis , can cause sores that look like genital warts, but require another type of treatment.

Streaming

In virtually all cases, the HPV subtypes that cause genital warts are transmitted through unprotected sex, that is, without using condoms. Transmission occurs through contact between the skin of the genitals. The risk is even greater if there are cuts, scrapes or fissures in Organs genitals.

It is possible to transmit genital warts even if they are not visible. On the other hand, it is also possible to catch your partner’s ulcerations even if you are not seeing any strange signs on his genitals.

In very rare cases, pregnant women can pass genital warts to the baby during normal delivery, the moment the child passes through the vaginal canal.

There are no records of HPV contamination through the use of public bathrooms, swimming pools and saunas. The risks of transmission through the sharing of towels and underwear are minimal when the objects are used and void once they are washed.

It is important to remember that any type of unprotected sexual contact can transmit HPV and other STDs, including anal, oral and sexual intercourse between women.

Risk factors

Having sex without using condoms

Not using condoms during sexual intercourse is the main way to expose the body to any STD, including HPV and, consequently, genital warts.

The best way to avoid contagion by HPV is to use a condom in all sexual relations, even when you are in a monogamous relationship.

Remember that contracting genital warts when you are in a relationship is not necessarily synonymous with having been betrayed or betrayed. There is an incubation time for genital warts, which can take months or even years to manifest. Thus, your partner may have had contact with the warts a long time ago, but only recently developed the disease.

It is important to point out that anyone who has multiple partners needs to have extra attention when protecting themselves, both to avoid being infected by the virus and not to transmit it to other people.

Having multiple sexual partners

The more different partners a person has, the greater the chance of being exposed to a variation of HPV that causes genital warts.

Be pregnant

During pregnancy, changes in hormone levels can affect the immune system, making women more susceptible to genital warts and other virus-related skin rashes.

Having another sexually transmitted disease

A person diagnosed with another sexually transmitted disease can be a strong candidate or candidate for developing genital warts.

This is because the same risky behavior that caused the patient to contract another STD may also have been a window of opportunity for exposure to HPV.

Being under 21

Hormonal fluctuations typical of adolescence are responsible for fluctuations in the strength of the immune system. Therefore, the earlier a teenager begins his sex life, the greater the risk of contracting HPV when he engages in unprotected relationships.

Having diseases that affect the immune system, such as diabetes and HIV / AIDS

The weaker an immune system is, the more susceptible to dermatological manifestations caused by viruses is the organism. For this reason, people with diseases such as AIDS , diabetes and autoimmune disorders (such as lupus , for example) must have extra attention.

Symptoms

The appearance of ulcers, blisters and lumps on the genitals is the biggest symptom of genital warts.

There is a stereotype that warts look similar to cauliflower, with a porous appearance – and some in fact do. However, depending on the HPV subtype responsible for the appearance, genital warts may appear as lumps or even mere bumps on the skin, similar to lumps.

Warts can also appear on different parts of Organs genitals, which can make it difficult for the patient to observe and identify them only using the “eyepiece”.

In women

Warts usually appear on the vulva, on the walls of the vagina and in the cervical canal.

In men

Sores can appear on the testicles and on the entire tip of the penis, especially on the top and bottom.

In both sexes

They can appear in the area between the genitals and the anus or in the rectum itself.

In rarer cases, genital warts also appear on the tongue and throat as a result of unprotected oral sex.

In addition to the appearance of the wart itself, other symptoms may indicate the presence of one. Are they:

  • Itching or itching of the genitals;
  • Bleeding during or shortly after intercourse;
  • Abnormal or excessive humidity around the genitals;
  • Swellings with yellow or gray color in Organs genitals.

If your partner develops genital warts, it is important to see a gynecologist or urologist as soon as possible, even if you do not have any symptoms.

How is the diagnosis of genital wart made?

The most suitable professionals to diagnose genital warts are gynecologists, for women, and urologists, for men. There are different diagnostic procedures for each sex.

Diagnosis of genital warts in women

The first step to diagnose genital warts in women is the gynecological exam , done in the office with observation with the naked eye and, in some cases, application of an acetic liquid that helps to identify the lumps.

Another diagnostic method is the Pap smear , popularly known as a preventive exam . The procedure, which must be done annually by women of reproductive age, consists of a scraping on the cervix that serves to ascertain the health of the region, including the presence of warts.

If the results of the pap smear show changes related to warts, the gynecologist can request two additional tests: hybrid capture and colposcopy .

The hybrid capture is a specific exam to map the variation of HPV in the body, through the collection and analysis of samples from the cervix and the inner walls of the vagina.

Already colposcopy is a biopsy of localized lesions in the cervix, including warts. It is made with the help of an optical instrument called a colposcope.

Diagnosis of genital warts in men

The clinical examination performed by the urologist with observation and touch is also the first step in the diagnosis of genital warts in men.

As a complementary test, the doctor may also order a peniscopy , which uses an optical device to look for lesions on the penis that are invisible to the naked eye.

During the procedure, the urologist can scrape the lesions and send the material for further analysis in the laboratory.

Blood test

Blood testing is a method that works as a diagnosis of genital warts regardless of the gender of the patient.

The purpose of the procedure is to detect the presence of HPV in the body. In the case of genital warts, it serves as a supplement to confirm the diagnosis.

Is genital wart curable? What is the treatment?

Roughly speaking, it can be said that genital warts are curable , as they eventually disappear after the start of proper treatment. However, it is important to note that ulcerations are symptoms of infection by certain HPV subtypes.

The virus, in turn, can be cured if your immune system is strong enough to expel it, although there are no drugs that can fight HPV after infection.

Treatment for genital warts in general is simple, involving the application of medications for a few days. For most patients, the wounds should be gone in a few weeks. Some cases, however, can last for months.

For more severe cases, the doctor may recommend a minor surgical procedure.

In addition to applying the remedies, the doctor may ask the patient not to use perfumed soap, lotions or intimate soaps at the wart site while being treated, as these products can irritate the skin.

The most used remedies for treating warts are as follows:

Dermatological creams and gynecological ointments

Creams and ointments aimed at treating genital warts alter the body’s immune response, that is, they make the immune system able to use its defense mechanisms to eliminate the warts.

Some creams frequently indicated are imiquimod and podophyllotoxin .

In general, they are sold in boxes with a certain number of sachets, and each sachet can only be used once. The cream can be applied at intervals of 6, 8 or 10 hours, according to medical advice. The treatment lasts, on average, from 15 to 60 days.

Some ointments can be applied directly with your hands, while others require specific plastic applicators that come in the product packaging. Still others need to be taught by a professional, in the doctor’s office. To find out what your case is, talk to your gynecologist or urologist and read the package insert carefully.

It is contraindicated for the patient to have sex while using dermatological creams or gynecological ointments, since this type of substance can cause allergies on the partner’s skin, in addition to decreasing the effectiveness of condoms, diaphragms and spermicides.

Trichloroacetic acid or bichloroacetic acid

Trichloroacetic acid and bichloroacetic acid are substances used in various aesthetic and dermatological treatments, including the treatment of warts.

In the case of genital warts, the application of the solution is usually done in a doctor’s office or health clinic, since, if applied incorrectly, it can cause burns.

Trichloroacetic acid should be applied directly to the wound site, one to two times a week. The treatment lasts, on average, from 1 to 3 months, although it can be extended depending on the severity of the case.

Cantonidine application

Cantonidine is a natural substance with antimitotic properties, that is, it fights mitosis – the process of cell reproduction. To perform the procedure, the doctor will brush a small amount of cantnidine on the warts, which will sting a little in the first minutes after application.

After coming into contact with cantharidine, cell reproduction is blocked and the wart stops growing. Within 3 to 8 hours, it turns into a small blister of dead tissue and the patient must then return to the office for total wart removal.

The application of cantharidine is seldom used in Brazil because it is an expensive procedure. It should be done only with the supervision of a doctor, as cantharidine is an extremely toxic substance.

Attention!

NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Surgery

The doctor may recommend a small surgical procedure for more serious cases, in which the warts do not respond to treatment with drugs, are very large or are present in greater quantity.

Surgical intervention can also be recommended for pregnant women, if the presence of the wart poses risks to the baby or has the potential to make delivery difficult.

Among the types of surgery that can be performed are:

Cryotherapy

Also called carbonic snow, cryotherapy is a method that bets on crystallization through extremely low temperatures to remove genital warts.

In this procedure, the doctor will apply a solution of liquid nitrogen stored at -196 ºC. The substance will kill the tissue around the wart, which is expected to fall within 7 days.

Cryotherapy is the most widely used surgical method for removing genital warts. It does not hurt or leave scars. The patient may experience slight discomfort in the first 48 hours after the procedure.

Electrocautery

Electrocautery uses electrical currents to eliminate warts. A microscopic probe is used to give mild shocks to the wart, killing the tissue that makes it up.

It is an extremely effective and safe procedure for the treatment of warts, but it usually leaves scars or dark spots on the skin.

Laser treatment

It is the most complex surgical intervention when it comes to genital warts, since it involves the application of general or local anesthesia. The procedure consists of using high temperature light beams to burn the warts.

Generally, laser treatment is used to treat warts that are very large, or that are present in larger quantities. It is totally effective and leaves no scars. However, the patient may experience pain during the postoperative period and there is a small possibility of infection at the site after surgery.

Surgical excision

Surgical excision is basically to cut the wart. The doctor will remove the lump and then perform a skin graft. The procedure is considered archaic and obsolete, so it is rarely done today.

It can leave scars and exposes the site to a slight risk of infections. Recovery lasts several weeks, during which the patient may experience discomfort and pain.

Home treatments for genital wart

There are some homemade recipes used to treat genital warts. Remember: these treatments do not have scientifically proven efficacy and must be complementary to the traditional treatment recommended by the doctor.

Sitz bath

The sitz baths used to treat genital warts are made with water and vinegar.

To make a sitz bath, put 3 liters of warm water and 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a bowl. Mix well. Then, sit for about 30 minutes. When getting up, dry the area well.

food

Foods rich in folic acid and beta-carotene are believed to accelerate the healing of genital warts. To bet on this homemade treatment, add items like spinach, kale, turnip, broccoli, asparagus, peas, beans , lentils, avocado and citrus to your menu .

Other care

The gynecologist or urologist may recommend some extra care to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment. Some recommendations are:

  • Avoid visiting places like beaches and swimming pools. Using wet bathing suits can contribute to the proliferation of warts;
  • Temporarily suspend the use of skinny jeans. Heat can also contribute to making the environment more cozy for ulcerations;
  • Do not shave until the warts are gone, especially if you use blades. Aggression to the skin caused by this type of procedure can cause inflammation and bleeding that impair treatment.

What can happen if genital warts are not treated?

In some people, genital warts will eventually go away on their own, even without treatment, although they are likely to reappear in the near future. Another possible consequence is the appearance of new warts, causing even more discomfort and affecting the patient’s self – esteem .

Remember that it is important to see a doctor even if the presence of warts is not a nuisance for you, as the disease is caused by the HPV virus, which can cause serious illnesses.

Living together

Genital warts can be bothersome and cause discomfort, but it is important to keep in mind that, in general, they do not cause more serious complications. If treated, they disappear quickly.

When you notice the slightest sign of warts on your genitals, it is essential to communicate your partner immediately.

Being diagnosed with an STD can be emotionally painful and affect your self-esteem. Do not panic! Check out some tips to work on these feelings and deal with the situation in the best possible way:

  • Don’t feel guilty or guilty. An STD is a disease like any other and, despite the social stigma, it does not necessarily mean anything about your character or your conduct. All sexually active people are subject to contracting genital warts and other STDs, including those who have only one partner or sexual partner;
  • Do not be ashamed of going to the doctor if you notice any abnormal signs on your genitals. Health professionals deal with this type of situation every day, and will not issue any kind of judgment based on your diagnosis;
  • Talking to your partner about your diagnosis is essential. Take a deep breath and choose a quiet and pleasant time for dialogue. Bring some informative material for the conversation, such as data, research and basic information about the prognosis;
  • If you think there is a possibility that your partner’s reaction may have some degree of violence, prefer to have the conversation in a public place, over the phone or some instant messaging service. If you are in a dangerous situation, do not hesitate to call 180 and ask for help.

Complications

The biggest complications caused by untreated genital warts concern pregnant women, who tend to suffer a little more from the disease. In the rest of the patients, the warts themselves do not usually cause more serious problems.

However, warts are a symptom of HPV contamination. The virus, in turn, is the causative agent of several types of cancer , both in women and in men. It is estimated that the human papillomavirus is responsible for 70% of vaginal cancers and 50% of vulvar cancers.

Once the patient has genital warts, it is important to have tests to rule out the presence of other STDs.

Complications during pregnancy

Pregnant women can develop several complications caused by the disease, especially at the time of delivery, as the presence of warts can affect the ability of the vaginal tissues to dilate. This development can hamper normal deliveries and even make it necessary to perform a cesarean section.

Warts that are located on the vulva can also rupture, bleed, or sting during delivery, causing pain and discomfort during and after the baby is born.

In rarer cases, the baby may be born with some colonies of genital warts on the throat. In this scenario, removal surgery may be necessary.

How to prevent genital wart?

The most effective way to protect yourself against the appearance of genital warts is simple: use a condom in all sexual relations , including oral and anal sex.

If your partner has visible genital warts, you need to remember that you are subject or subject to contagion even using a condom. This is because there may be very small wounds, impossible to see, in places that the condom does not cover.

It is important to note that no contraceptive method is effective in protecting against STDs, including diaphragms, vaginal rings, birth control pills and withdrawal. Only condoms, both male and female, can prevent infection by sexually transmitted diseases.

Also remember that condoms are disposable and can only be used once.

It is also essential for women to have pap smears annually, to identify HPV contagion early and avoid problems related to the virus – both genital warts and more serious diseases.

The HPV vaccine is currently the only prophylactic method proven to be effective in preventing contact with the virus that causes warts.

HPV vaccine

The vaccine against the HPV virus is the best method to prevent infection by the virus and its consequences, including the appearance of genital warts. Contrary to what some people may think, both men and women can and should be vaccinated.

A pioneer in the fight against papillomavirus contagion, Brazil is the first country in South America to offer HPV vaccination free of charge, through the Unified Health System (SUS). According to recommendations from the Ministry of Health, boys from 11 to 14 years old and girls from 9 to 15 years old can be vaccinated free of charge at health centers.

The target audience of the vaccination campaign is young for a specific reason: the goal of vaccinating preadolescents before sexual activity begins, to avoid contact with the virus. Studies indicate that a considerable number of people are infected with HPV in the first year of sexual life, even if they only have one partner.

This strategy, however, is not a contraindication for the vaccine for adults. Research indicates that the vaccine is equally effective and safe in people over the age of 26. Therefore, those who have already left adolescence can be vaccinated peacefully through the private network. In the South, the amount of the dose can vary from R $ 200.00 to R $ 500.00. It is necessary to take two doses to be protected.

How to use a male condom

To prevent genital warts, it is very important to use a condom correctly, covering the entire surface of the penis and performing the procedure properly, as described below:

  1. After checking the expiration date, open the package, being careful not to pierce the condom. Avoid using your teeth, nails or sharp objects, such as knives and scissors.
  2. With the penis erect, position the condom and twist the tip to remove the air. This will prevent the condom from bursting.
  3. Still holding the tip, unroll the condom to the base of the penis.
  4. After ejaculation, it is important to remove the penis by holding the condom by the base, to prevent the condom from coming out inside the partner.
  5. Remove the condom by pulling on the base, avoiding contact with the partner.
  6. Tie a condom knot, wrap it in toilet paper and dispose of it in a trash can.

Remember: if your partner has visible genital warts, it is not recommended to have sex even when using a male condom.

How to use a female condom

Still little widespread, the female condom is as effective as the male condom in preventing the transmission of STDs and preventing unwanted pregnancies. To use the female condom correctly, just follow the steps below:

  1. After checking the expiration date, open the package, being careful not to pierce the condom. Avoid using your teeth, nails or sharp objects, such as knives and scissors.
  2. Hold the condom by the smaller ring, leaving the larger ring down.
  3. Press the sides of the smaller ring so that the mouth of the ring forms an “8”.
  4. Lie in a comfortable position or ask your partner to lie down.
  5. Place the smaller ring in the vagina, leaving about 3 centimeters of the larger ring out.
  6. Insert your finger into the larger ring and, being careful not to pierce the condom, push the condom as far as you can. The goal is to cover the cervix in the best possible way.
  7. If necessary, adjust the position of the condom with your fingers, until it is in the correct place and as comfortable as possible.
  8. Before penetration, make sure the condom is in the right position.
  9. After the end of the relationship, gently pull the condom by the larger ring until the condom comes out completely. Roll it up, wrap it in toilet paper and dispose of it in a trash can.

Remember: if your partner has visible genital warts, it is not recommended to have sex even with the use of the female condom.

Prevention of genital warts among homosexual women

There is a widespread myth that women who relate exclusively to other women are not subject to STD contamination.

The misinformation led to an alarming scenario: a survey carried out by the STD / AIDS Reference and Training Center in the State of São Paulo showed that 60% of lesbian and bisexual women in the state contracted some sexually transmitted disease throughout their lives.

It is important to clarify that sexual relations between women are also at risk of transmitting a range of diseases – including HIV , syphilis, HPV, and, of course, genital warts.

Some tips for preventing the transmission of HPV and genital warts among women are:

  • Use a female condom during oral sex;
  • Cover accessories – such as vibrators and rubber items – with a male condom. Discard the condom immediately after use, especially if the objects are shared between you and your partner;
  • Avoid sharing underwear and towels immediately after intercourse, even if you are in a monogamous relationship;
  • Wash your hands before and after intercourse.

Even if you have never had sex with men, it is important to go to a gynecologist regularly and have a pap smear once a year. If you are diagnosed with genital warts, report it to your partner and stop sex while you are being treated.

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