Warts are non-cancerous skin growths. These growths are caused by a virus. Warts are very contagious. The length of time it takes for a wart to disappear will vary from person to person. Warts could take years to clear up without treatment. Warts can develop in different areas including the genitals.
Genital warts, also known as venereal warts or condylomata acuminate are soft growths on the skin and mucus membranes of the genitals spread mainly through sexual contact. It is usually benign, although malignant change has been reported, associated with particular types of the virus
The virus that causes genital warts is called human papilloma virus (HPV). More than 70 different types of HPV exist. This kind of infection is now considered to be the most common sexually-transmitted infection (sexually transmitted disease, STD); between 500,000 and 1 million people get genital warts every year. HPV infection of the genital tract is transmitted through sexual contact, although non-sexual transmission is also possible. Most people have no symptoms of HPV. Sometimes it is not easy to diagnose without special medical procedures. It is important to note that the virus can be spread even if you do not see the warts. The symptoms of HPV may not be noticed for years.
Genital warts are flesh-colored, soft-to-the-touch bumps on the skind that may look like the surface of a cauliflower. They often grow in more than one place and may cluster in large masses. Genital warts usually are painless, but they may itch.
Other symptoms can include an increase of dampness in the genital area near the warts, the raising of vaginal discharge or vaginal bleeding during or after sex. Genital warts could appear in the vagina or vulva, in the cervix, penis, anus or urethra. It is also possible -but not likely- to find them in the mouth, lips, tongue, palate or throat.
Many often our bodies fight off the virus, in which case the warts disappear with no treatment. But if the warts persist, they can be removed with different medical methods. Each treatment is aimed at getting rid of the visible warts and lowering the number of viruses present. If the amount of viruses can be lowered the patient’s immune system has a better chance of fighting them off. The following treatments are effective in getting rid of visible warts:
- Laser treatment – an intensive beam of light is used to destroy the wart. This is a fast, effective and pain-free method with lasting results
- Topical medication – a cream or liquid is applied directly onto the warts for a few days each week. This may be either administered by the patient at home or at a clinic – it depends on the kind of treatment. Treatment may continue for several weeks.
- Cryotherapy – the warts are frozen, often with liquid nitrogen. The freezing causes a blister to form around the wart. As the skin heals the lesions slide off, allowing new skin to appear. Sometimes repeated treatments are needed.
- Electrocautery – electric current is used to destroy the wart. The patient will generally be given a local anaesthetic.
- Surgery – the wart will be cut out (excised). A local anaesthetic will be used for this. Surgery to treat warts is not usually recommended because warts often return and further treatment is needed.
How does laser wart removal work?
Wart removal treatments at The Angel Laser clinic are done mainly with a Pulsed Dye laser (Regenlite). The laser cuts off the blood supply to the wart without damaging the skin around it. It is a safe and effective treatment.
How will I feel during the treatment?
Most people describe it as painless and some said they felt a mild discomfort
How many treatments will I need?
Normally 3 treatments are recommended but stubborn warts may require 5 or more treatments.
What happens after the wart laser removal?
You can continue as normal as no downtime is expected. Some darkening of the skin where the wart used to be sometimes can be seen but this is usually temporary.
Since HPV can be passed from person to person even when there are no visible warts or other symptoms, practicing safer sex can reduce the risk of getting genital warts. In this sense, the use of condoms is very important even though it doesn’t fully protect from the virus; HPV or warts can also be on the nearby skin.
There are two vaccines that can protect against the two HPV types that cause 90 percent of all cases of genital warts. Always ask your health care provider whether the HPV vaccine is right for you. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing genital warts and are also more likely to have warts recur. To quit smoking could help to reduce de virus.