Genital Warts and Treatments

Genital warts are symptoms that are typically caused by the so-called HPV virus. There is great variation in the appearance of gential warts in terms of form, color and size. They can come in the form of small bumps, flat growths, raised growths or skin changes in the genital or anal area. Generally, women tend to have genital warts in the form of small bumps whereas men have warts that are similar to hand warts. In addition to that there is variation in how many warts an individual may have. While some individuals will only have one or two warts, other individuals will have clusters of warts.

Genital warts are caused by the so-called HPV virus and spread by various forms of skin-to-skin contact. Some examples of how genital warts spread are during intercourse or by sharing sexual toys. Genital warts are typically not harmful for an individuals health, however many individuals experience psychological distress which in turn can also affect their sexual health.

How are they treated?

There is a range of treatment choices for individuals suffering from genetic warts, and they are tailored to treat specific types of warts. The two main distinctions to be aware of are topical treatments and physical ablation.

Topical treatments include Podophyllotoxin, Imiquimod and Trichloroacetic acid (TCA), each of these treatments are described below.

Podophyllotoxin

Individuals who have clusters of small warts are likely to be recommended Podophyllotoxin to treat their symptoms. Podophyllotoxin is a treatment that needs to be completed in cycles. It starts with an initial treatment cycle that lasts three days. During this period the treatment is used two times a day. This is then followed by a four day resting period where no treatment is conducted. Once the resting period is complete, the initial cycle is started again and this is repeated until the warts are treated. In order to ensure that the appropriate amount of the treatment is dripped on the wart, the treatment is applied using a special application stick. Podophyllotoxin come in the brands Warticon and Condyline. A GP can prescribe these treatments or they can be prescribed in a sexual health clinic. If you know that you have warts then you can even get the treatment prescribed online such as this online service.

Imiquimod

Individuals who have larger warts are likely to be recommended Imiquimod as first line of treatment. Imiquimod is a cream that is applied to the warts three times a week, and then washed off after ten hours. The length of the treatment can range from a week to four months, and can have side effects such as headaches, burning sensation of applying the cream and skin becoming harder or ‘flaky’. However, it is worth noting that these side effects stop soon after the treatment is completed. Imiquimod is also known under the brand name Aldara. This is an expensive medication and it is unlikely to be prescribed on the NHS. Here is some more information on this product.

Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)

Individuals who have small, but hard warts, tend to be recommended to us Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) to treat their symptoms. TCA needs to be applied by a health professional, because incorrect usage can harm healthy skin. Individuals that use this treatment often report of feeling an intense burning sensation during the first minutes after application.

Physical ablation

Physical ablation treatments are often used in challenging treatments, such as when the warts are hard to reach or when other treatments have failed. They should always be conducted by a medical practitioner to ensure patient safety. As with topical treatments, certain ablation treatments are more suitable for certain types of warts. The most known ablation methods are called cryotherapy, excision, electro surgery and laser surgery. They are respectively used for multiple small warts, small hardened warts, large warts that have not been successfully treated by the aforementioned topical treatments, and for removing warts in areas that cannot easily be reached.

More information on the various treatments can be accessed here - http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Genital_warts/Pages/Treatment.aspx