Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). It is a sexually transmitted disease that spreads from person to person during unprotected sexual contact. The warts can develop in a number of places on the body including the mouth and anus, but most often shows up on the genitals.
Signs and Symptoms of Genital Warts
Not everyone that has HPV will develop genital warts. In fact, the majority of people will show no signs of the disease at all, which is one of the reasons why it spreads so easily among humans. For those that do develop genitals warts, it can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months for them to appear. However, the average time frame for the first eruption is 3 months. The genital warts symptoms in men are a little different than the genital warts symptoms in women, but you may have genital or anal warts if you present the following symptoms:
- Appearance of raised or flat flesh-colored or grey spots
- Soft growths with a cauliflower appearance
- Females may experience increased vaginal discharge or bleeding after sex
- The genital area is damp or wet near the warts
- For male sufferers, the warts appear most often on the tip of the penis, but can grow on the shaft and scrotum
- For female sufferers, the warts appear most often on the vaginal opening, but can also grow on internal organs like the cervix and uterus
Genital warts vary in size, especially in the early stages, ranging from microscopic to large. Big warts usually require surgery to remove which can lead to scarring. The warts behave similarly to herpes in that they may go through periods of latency and activity. Whether the warts are visible or not, an infected person can still transmit HPV to his or her sexual partner.
What Do Genital Warts Look Like in the early Stages?
In the beginning stages of development, the genital warts may be mistaken for pimples, except you won’t be able to pop them. Small, hard, pink or white bumps that resemble cauliflower will appear around the genitals. The bumps may sprout in batches or singly and itch. Generally, the bumps are not painful. As the virus progresses, the bumps may stay the same size or get larger. Each breakout is different. Some warts remain a microscopic size while others get as large as a dime.
Diagnosing Genital Warts
If you start exhibiting signs of genital warts, it is a good idea to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes other sexually transmitted diseases are mistaken for genital warts. Plus, treating genital warts in the early stages will make them go away faster.
An experienced medical professional can generally diagnose the condition by visually inspecting the growths. He or she may conduct additional tests, though, to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include a pap smear (for women), a biopsy, or bathing the warts in a vinegar water solution and checking the color.
Can Genital Warts Be Cured?
At this time there is no cure for HPV or genital warts. However, there is an HPV vaccine called Gardasil that protects against the virus. To be effective, you must get the vaccine prior to exposure to the virus. It has no affect on the disease after a person has been infected. This medication has been approved for use on females ages 9 to 25 and is currently being tested for males in the same age range.
Genital Warts Treatment
The purpose of genital wart treatments is to get rid of visible warts. This can be accomplished in several ways. Medication is generally the first line of treatment. There are a number of pharmaceutical drugs your doctor may prescribe, a few of which can only be applied by a healthcare provider. While many of these medications are effective at getting rid of the warts, they can cause side effects such as bleaching of the skin, itching, headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and blisters. The warts can also be removed by freezing (cryosurgery), burning (electrocauterization or laser therapy), or cutting them off. However, there are risks associated with these options as well.
What you really need is an over-the-counter medication that will eradicate your genital warts without causing unpleasant side effects. The main benefit of having an OTC medicine in your bathroom cabinet is you’ll be able to use it anytime you experience a flare up. There are many medications that claim they work, but we have found the ones that actually do. To find the right treatment option for you, go to the homepage to read our reviews of the top genital warts treatment products on the market.