Genital Warts Treatment

  • Treatment

    Many remedies for common skin warts are available without a prescription at drugstores. Many nonprescription wart remedies are available in the form of ointments, plasters, or lotions. They usually include strong chemicals that destroy skin cells, and should be used with caution because they destroy healthy as well as abnormal cells. It is difficult to determine the efficacy of these treatments, however, because most warts eventually disappear by themselves.

    Genital or anal warts should not be treated with over-the counter medications. Most nonprescription wart remedies contain caustic chemicals that could harm the sensitive skin around the genitals or anus, and therefore should not be used to treat genital or anal warts.

    Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.

    Warts can be removed by cryotherapy, electrosurgery, or laser therapy. Cryotherapy is a process in which liquid nitrogen is used to freeze off the wart. In electrosurgery, an electric current is passed through the wart to kill the tissue. With laser therapy, a powerful laser burns the tissue off one layer at a time. Cryotherapy is most often recommended because it is fast, inexpensive, relatively painless, and is often effective. Cryosurgery is also used to destroy HPV-altered cells of the cervix to reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer. Regardless of the therapy used, repeat treatments may be required to completely eliminate the wart.

    Your physician may recommend surgical removal of your warts. Excision of the wart is one of the options available, but for most people it is less desirable than freezing the wart or using a topical medication. For example, doctors generally don't recommend surgically removing plantar warts because the surgery can cause a scar at least as painful as the wart itself.

    During pregnancy, genital warts may grow large enough to obstruct the birth canal. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause pre-existing genital warts to grow. In some cases, the warts grow so large that they block the birth canal. In these cases, surgically removing the warts or a C-section may be required for delivery.

    In most cases, warts on the skin will eventually disappear by themselves. Skin warts are most common among young children and teenagers, and eventually disappear on their own. The process, however, can take months to several years, and if the wart is painful or causes embarrassment, treatment may be desirable.

    Regardless of treatment, many warts recur. Approximately 25% of people who have their warts removed will have a recurrence within three months. Smaller warts and warts that have been present for short periods of time are the ones most likely to respond to treatment and not recur.

    None of the currently available treatments will cure HPV infection. All of the currently available treatments for HPV infection are designed to treat the symptoms, primarily by removing the warts. None of the treatments, however, will eliminate HPV from the body.

    Once your warts have disappeared, there is no need for follow-up unless the warts recur.

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