Genital Warts: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options
What are Genital Warts?
Genital warts are small growths on the skin that are caused by specific strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is a common sexually transmitted infection. There are more than 100 known types of HPV, however, only a few strains are responsible for actually causing genital warts. Whilst sexual activity is widely regarded as the factor that causes genital warts, there are also other risk factors that include such as a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions and medications. Individuals can also be at an increased risk of genital warts if they already have another type of HPV infection as different strains can affect different parts of the body.
What do Genital Warts look like?
Whilst they can vary in appearance from person to person, generally, genital warts are small individual growths that are flesh coloured or have a slight grey/red tinge to them with either a smooth or slightly bumpy surface. There is no specific shape attributed to genital warts, they can be raised and resemble small bumps or growths or less noticeable, flat warts that appear smoother. It’s important to note that not all genital bumps or skin growths are necessarily genital warts, as there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.
Genital Warts Symptoms
For many individuals, genital warts can be asymptomatic, meaning that they may not cause any noticeable symptoms. However, some common genital warts symptoms include the below:
Cauliflower-Like Shape Bumps
Large clusters of genital warts can resemble a cauliflower-like shape which is caused by several warts growing close together.
Itching or Burning
Genital warts are known to cause itching, irritation, or discomfort in the affected area. The itching can range from mild to severe and may worsen with sweating or friction.
Genital warts themselves do not typically cause significant swelling. However, in some cases, swelling may occur in the surrounding tissues due to inflammation or irritation caused by the presence of warts.
What Causes Genital Warts?
Genital warts are caused by specific strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is primarily transmitted exclusively through sexual contact. The virus can infect the skin or mucous membranes of the genital area, and if the person has a susceptible immune system, genital warts may develop.
How to Get Rid of Genital Warts
Whilst many individuals who are suffering from genital warts may be looking for quick ways to get rid of them, it’s essential to understand that the treatment aims to remove visible warts, relieve immediate symptoms and reduce the overall risk of transmission.
Getting a Professional Diagnosis
The most important thing for anyone who is experiencing genital warts symptoms is to firstly, get a diagnosis from a qualified and licensed healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and the best course of treatment. It’s important to note that the symptoms of genital warts may be similar to other conditions, therefore only a medical professional can confirm the actual diagnosis.
Treatment Options for Genital Warts
There are many ways to remove visible genital warts and relieve the symptoms that range from topical treatments to non-invasive laser treatment for genital warts. An experienced medical professional can advise on the best treatment for genital warts to suit each individual and there different needs.
Cream for Genital Warts
Over the counter or prescription topical creams, gels, or solutions containing specific key ingredients can be applied directly to the warts. These solutions work by stimulating the immune system or directly destroying the warts. It’s very important to follow the instructions provided by a doctor or medical professional and continue treatment as prescribed to see the best results.
Electrocautery is one of the methods used to treat genital wars through a medical procedure that uses heat generated by an electrical current to remove or destroy the tissue. Whilst the specific technique used may differ depending on the provider, it’s essential to note that electrocautery should only be performed in a clinical setting by a qualified medical practitioner.
Cryosurgery, also known as cryotherapy, is a medical procedure that uses extreme cold temperatures to destroy abnormal or unwanted tissue and a common method used to treat genital warts. The number of cryotherapy sessions required may vary depending on the size and location of the warts, as well as individual factors.
Fractional co2 Laser
More and more people are now turning to fractional CO2 laser therapy as a means to treat various skin conditions, including genital warts. It works through fractional CO2 laser emitting a focused beam of light that delivers energy to the targeted area which in turn heats and vaporised the tissue, destroying the genital warts. The depth of treatment and intensity of the laser can be adjusted by the healthcare professional based on the specific needs of the individual. Another benefit to fractional CO2 laser treatments is that it also stimulates the production of new collagen in the skin, which can promote healing and improve the overall appearance of the targeted area.
Overall, genital warts are a common condition and shouldn’t cause any major pain but more mild itching and discomfort. Nevertheless, if you suspect you have genital warts or have been exposed to HPV, it’s important to consult a qualified medical practitioner for correct diagnosis, treatment and guidance on managing the infection.
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