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Genital warts therapy I Dermatologist Guide

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Genital warts therapy I Dermatologist Guide

Have you noticed some warty growths in your genital area? Wondering what these growths could be? They are most likely genital warts. You should consult a dermatologist to diagnose and treat these growths because they might spread quickly, making the treatment more prolonged and painful.

In this article, I have covered the following aspects of genital warts:

  • Is genital warts a common problem?
  • How do you get genital warts?
  • What do warts look like?
  • What are the symptoms of warts?
  • Which specialist doctor should I consult?
  • What kind of treatment is given for genital warts?
  • What precautions should I take?

Is genital warts a common problem?

Yes, Genital warts are very common among sexually active individuals, with males to female ratio of 2:1. In fact, 5-25% of patients with sexually transmitted diseases have genital warts. Underlying HIV infection increases the chances of getting genital warts.

How do you get genital warts?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) causes genital warts. The HPV virus from an infected sexual partner enters into the genital skin of an uninfected partner through the micro-abrasions that occur during sexual intercourse.

There is a 60% chance of spreading the infection between partners. The HPV virus might stay latent in the skin cells for 1-8 months before producing micro-lesions that are not visible to our eyes. In many cases, these micro warts regress spontaneously or do not grow until there is a lowering of immunity of the person. Therefore, you might notice genital warts even years after intercourse with the infected partner. Rarely genital warts can occur from the wart on your or your partner’s fingers.

What do warts look like?

Anogenital warts usually appear pink to dark red and soft to form growths, either single or multiple. In most cases, warts have irregular papillomatous surfaces and are pedunculated (which means they have thinner stalks at the base).

What are the symptoms of warts?

Warts are in the initial stage, primarily asymptomatic and stay unnoticed until they become more extensive or increase in number. Warts can lead to pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse. They might itch, and soft warts might bleed as well. Genital warts have a substantial psychological impact on patients’ sexual life and might arouse anxiety and guilt.

Which specialist doctor should I consult?

All sexually transmitted diseases, including genital warts, are treated by a Dermatologist.

You should not delay consulting the dermatologist even if you have a single small wart because they can be treated with minimum possible treatment with minimal chances of recurrences. On the other hand, the treatment of multiple warts is painful. It might last for months, with 20-30% chances of recurrences.

What is genital warts treatment?

The treatment for genital warts is decided by a dermatologist based on the patient’s extent, type, site and pain tolerance. These treatments can be done at home or in a dermatologist clinic as follows:

Home-based therapy :

  • Imiquimod cream: Imiquimod helps treat warts by enhancing your immunity to work against warts; it does not act on the HPV virus directly.
  • Zinc: Zinc helps in immunomodulation and enhances the effect of other therapies.

Clinic-based therapy:

  • Podophyllotoxin: This is a toxic extract from a podophyllum plant. It destroys the wart tissue and might be very dangerous if spill occurs on normal tissue. Therefore, dermatologists apply this medication in the clinic itself.
  • TCA: A dermatologist uses Trichloroacetic acid to chemically cauterise the wart.
  • Cryotherapy: In this, liquid nitrogen is used to destroy warts.
  • Surgical excision: A dermatologist might choose to surgically remove a resistant wart, but this is rarely done.

All the treatment of warts should be done under the strict supervision of the dermatologist to avoid any side effects and toxicity because all these medications work by a destructive method and might harm you if misused. Never trust quacks for treating warts. We have seen extensive warts after quacks treatments that might cause microtrauma in your skin and lead to widespread warts.

You can try homoeopathic medicines, but if you don’t see any effect in a month or so or if your warts tend to increase, you should consult a dermatologist without further delay.

What precautions should I take?

Warts are caused by the HPV virus that can spread very fast, especially if there is slight trauma to your skin. Therefore, the following precautions should be taken to avoid spreading to oneself and one partner:

  • Do not touch your warts frequently. You might inoculate the virus from your finger into your body’s skin leading to more warts.
  • Do not shave the pubic area if you have warts in the hairy area. This can lead to multiple warts making the treatment very challenging.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse altogether until total clearance. Abstinence is highly recommended during the treatment when the wart surface is raw, increasing the chance of transmission. If you wish to go ahead, make sure you use a condom. However, condoms might not protect you against getting this infection if the warts are on the skin that can still come in contact during sexual intercourse despite wearing condoms.
  • Do not share your towels or soap. Though the HPV virus does not transmit easily in this way, you can still practice it.

Genital problems, including warts, might create anxiety and shame, which is likely to delay the treatment. However, we highly recommend seeing a doctor as soon as you notice a wart. Doctors, as part of the code of ethics, must maintain their patients’ privacy, and they do not disclose their illnesses to anyone.


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