Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). For the warts to form, the virus invades the outer layer of your skin through a crack, creating an overgrowth of cells that creates the distinctive wart appearance.
They mostly appear on the genitals, but they can appear in other areas where HPV happens to land on, such as your neck and hands.1
Genital Warts in Men and Women
Male genital warts can appear anywhere on the penis. They can grow on nearby areas as well, such as the scrotum, upper thighs and inside the urethra. Should the virus travel to your anal region, the warts may affect the inside or outside of your anus.
Female genital warts, on the other hand, can be hard to spot. They can appear in hard-to-see places such as inside the vaginal walls and even the cervix. Nevertheless, warts can appear on the anus and upper thighs as well.2
The warts themselves are usually painless, but they can become bothersome once they multiply and grow unchecked. They can also cause bleeding, so if you notice that you’re bleeding randomly from your urethra or vagina, have it checked immediately.
In addition, warts that grow inside the urethra can disrupt the flow of urine. If you notice anything unusual while urinating, there’s a possibility that you have warts inside the passageway.3
Treating and Preventing Genital Warts
There is no known way to eliminate HPV and cure genital warts. Instead, conventional treatment involves a mixture of different methods to remove the warts, such as:4
• Topical creams: Specialized creams are administered on the warts to help prevent spreading. This procedure can last for a few weeks.
• Cryotherapy: The warts are frozen in liquid nitrogen, which causes blisters to form around them. This process causes the warts to slide off harmlessly and help new skin cells regenerate.
• Electrocautery: You’ll be administered a local anesthetic. Afterwards, a device that emits electrical current will be used to eliminate the wart.
• Surgery: A doctor will manually cut out the wart.
• Laser treatment: A powerful beam of light will burn off the wart from your skin.
The downside of these methods is that they may require repeat visits to the doctor, making them expensive in the long run. Instead, you can use home remedies that are easily accessible and affordable to help treat your warts.
When it comes to preventing genital warts, protecting yourself through practicing safe sex is the most effective method. Using condoms during sexual intercourse is highly recommended, and may also help protect you from other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and accidental pregnancies.5
Testing for HPV regularly is also important. Most HPV strains are asymptomatic and, to make things more complicated, their incubation period can be anywhere from weeks to months.6 If the virus is detected during a regular screening session, you can immediately undergo treatment to symptoms from developing, or keep it from spreading to your partner unknowingly.