Like warts on other areas of the body, genital warts are caused by various types of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Unlike a wart affecting other areas of skin, genital warts are associated with further cellular changes that may result in skin cancer or cervical cancer. This is a risk you should discuss with your dermatologist to determine appropriate monitoring and treatment measures.
Genital warts are considered a sexually transmitted disease. Even if a wart is removed, the virus may still be active and infectious. It may also flare up again in the future with or without visible symptoms. Since the virus sometimes has a long latency period, it may not be possible to determine exactly when or how you became infected. If you currently have (or have ever had) genital warts, you should discuss this with any sexual partners. Condom usage only limits transmission of the virus if the condom completely covers the affected area.
There is no effective over-the-counter remedy for genital warts at this time. In-office treatment and prescription medications include:
- Aldara (Imiquimod) – This cream may act as an immune response stimulator. It also causes the top layers of skin to exfoliate, eradicating the infected skin cells.
- Condylox (podophyllotoxin) or podophyllin – These topical treatments may interfere with cell replication, halting proliferation of the virus in affected skin cells.
- Cryotherapy – Application of liquid nitrogen can freeze off warts.
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