About Genital WartsGenital warts are non-painful skin growths that can be flat, round or cauliflower-like. They can be soft and spongy or rough and hard. Sometimes genital warts can be itchy. They can grow on their own or in clusters. Genital warts have been linked to an increase in certain types of cancer like cervical cancer in women and penile and anal cancer in men.
HPV and Genital WartsGenital warts are often the visible signs of a certain strain of HPV infection that is only transmitted through sexual contact. HPV stands for human papilloma virus.
A different strand of HPV is also responsible for skin warts on the hands, feet, legs and arms.
Like all viruses, HPV takes over a host cell in order to survive because it can’t multiply on its own.
HPV infects healthy skin cells by latching on to them and getting inside their structures. Then the virus mutates the cell’s structure in such a way that the skin cell can no longer control its growth. The skin cell then begins to grow wildly and erratically causing cell buildup that eventually becomes visible in the form of a wart.Genital warts rarely appear immediately after infection. Often they don’t appear until a week or two after the HPV infects the skin. Sometimes it can take months or even years before genital warts appear.
Genital Warts in Women
In women, genital warts appear on the labia (lips of the vulva), in the vagina, on the cervix, or by the urethra. Genital warts can also appear in and around the rectum.
Diagnosis of Genital Warts
Genital warts are diagnosed in several ways, depending on the type of genital warts and the gender of the infected person. The most common genital wart diagnosis techniques are:
- clinical examination
- culture or biopsy
- pap smears
This process involves a doctor carefully examining the genital area
for any warts. Sometimes warts can be very small, flat or flesh-colored. If
this is the case, they can be very hard to see. In order to make a thorough
visual inspection, the doctor might wash the genital area acetic acid. Acetic
acid is a vinegar-like solution. The acetic acid reacts with the wart cells and
turns them appear white so that they’re more visible. This type of genital wart
diagnosis is used for both men and women.
Culture or biopsy:
If a doctor suspects that a certain area of skin has genital warts, he or she can scrape a small sample of the skin to be sent to a medical lab for further analysis. Further analysis will confirm if the skin cells are infected with genital warts, and if the strain of genital wart is cancer-causing. Cultures and biopsies are usually completed on women.
This process involves using a special magnifying instrument to take a closer look at the cervical and vaginal tissue.
process involves scraping some skin cells from the cervix. The cells are
examined in a laboratory under a microscope for genital warts and other
problems. The examination also determines if any genital warts are cancerous.
The most common treatments for genital warts are:
- laser surgery
- topical solutions
Cryotherapy is the process of using extreme cold to freeze the warts off the skin.
Electrocautery is the process of using an electrical current to burn the wart off the skin.
Laser surgery is the process of surgically removing the wart with a laser.
Topical solutions are prescribed patient-applied creams that kill the wart cells. Common topical solutions are:
This page was last updated:
August 10, 2006It is not the intention of Cervicalcancer.org to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and Cervicalcancer.org urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.