HPV Warts and Genital Warts: What to Look Out For

hpv wart

Story at-a-glance -

  • While certain HPV types cause warts to manifest on various body parts, particularly on the hands, arms, face, feet and chest, there are others that can specifically produce genital warts. There are also HPV types that can lead to both
  • Topical and surgical treatments may help remove HPV warts, but be sure to discuss your options thoroughly with your physician to find out which one will work best for you

In most cases, the human papillomavirus (HPV) is defeated by your immune system without causing any unpleasant symptoms or effects on the body, usually without you even knowing you’ve been infected. If the infection becomes persistent, though, and does not resolve, it can lead to warts forming.1

HPV warts can vary in appearance, depending on the HPV strain that caused the infection. While certain types cause warts to manifest on various body parts, particularly on the hands, arms, face, feet and chest, there are others that can specifically produce genital warts. There are also HPV types that can lead to both.2

Common Skin Warts Are Typically Harmless

When viruses come in contact with damaged, scraped or cut skin, warts may manifest. One example is cuts or nicks caused by shaving. This is why some men see warts on their beard area, while women often see them on their legs.3 Examples of HPV warts that might manifest include:4

  • Common warts. Usually seen on the fingers, hands or elbows, these manifest as rough and raised bumps. Common warts are unsightly, but in some cases, they are painful or prone to bleeding or injury.
  • Plantar warts. These are seen on the heels or balls of the feet, and may appear as hard, grainy growths. Plantar warts can be uncomfortable, especially when walking, running or doing physical activities.
  • Flat warts. As their name implies, these lesions are flat-topped but slightly raised, and are often darker than your skin. Flat warts may appear anywhere, although children usually get them on the face, while in men, they’re seen in the beard area. Females get flat warts on the legs most of the time.

Be on the Lookout for Genital Warts

As mentioned above, some HPV types can cause warts to appear on the genitals, as well as the area around it. Unlike other types of warts that are seen on other body parts, genital warts, sometimes called condyloma acuminata or venereal warts,5 can be painful, and may bring on itching and discomfort.6

Genital warts are common among people between ages 17 and 33. These growths are highly contagious, and a single sexual contact can lead to a high risk of HPV condyloma acuminata infection.7 Statistics show that if you have sexual contact with someone infected with this type of HPV, two-thirds of individuals will develop lesions within three months.8 Genital warts may manifest in these areas:9,10

Penis

Scrotum

Groin

Inside or around the anus

Thighs

Inside or outside the vagina

Cervix

Vulva

In or around the urethra

Having oral sex with an infected individual will also put you at risk of genital warts forming on your mouth, lips, tongue or throat. In some cases, genital warts cannot be seen by the naked eye, as they may be too small or flat. When they are visible, though, their appearance may vary:

  • The warts may be the same color as your skin or darker, and sometimes with a grayish hue
  • They may grow into large clusters, appearing similar to a cauliflower
  • The warts may feel either smooth or slightly bumpy to the touch

Genital warts also may cause certain symptoms, such as itching, vaginal discharge, burning and bleeding (especially during or after intercourse).11,12 Genital warts can often go away after you’ve had them for a period of time, although you may experience several outbreaks over the course of your life while the virus is in your body.13 Topical and surgical treatments may help remove HPV warts, but be sure to discuss your options thoroughly with your physician to find out which one will work best for you.

MORE ABOUT HPV

HPV: Introduction

What Is HPV?

Oral HPV

How Is HPV Transmitted?

HPV Vaccine

HPV in Men

HPV in Women

HPV Types

HPV Causes

HPV Symptoms

HPV Warts

HPV Treatment

HPV Test

How to Get Rid of HPV

Living with HPV

Does HPV Go Away?

How Do You Get HPV?

Is HPV Curable?

Is HPV Contagious?

How Long Does HPV Last?

HPV FAQ

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