Genital warts are skin growths in the groin, genital, or anal areas. They can be different sizes and shapes. Some look like flat white patches, and others are bumpy, like tiny bunches of cauliflower. Sometimes you can't see the warts at all.
What causes genital warts?
Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Over 100 types of HPV have been found. Some types cause genital warts. Types 6 and 11 cause most genital warts.
How are genital warts diagnosed?
A doctor checks for genital warts by looking closely at the genital and anal areas. The doctor may ask you questions about your symptoms and risk factors. Risk factors are things that make you more likely to get an infection. Sometimes the doctor takes a sample of tissue from a wart for testing.
How are genital warts treated?
There are ways to treat genital warts. But the warts may come back because treatment doesn't kill the HPV infection that causes them.
Talk to your doctor if you want to treat visible genital warts. The warts usually go away with no treatment, but they may also spread. Some people decide to treat them because of the symptoms or because of how the warts look. But if you don't have symptoms and are not worried about how the warts look, you can wait and see if they go away.
If you decide to treat genital warts, talk to your doctor. There are medicines that you or your doctor can put on the warts. Or your doctor can remove them with lasers or surgery or by freezing them off.
Surgery to remove genital warts may be done when:
- Medicine treatment has failed and the removal of warts is thought to be needed.
- Warts are large.
When to call
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- A genital wart hurts or spreads.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You want further treatment for your genital warts.
- You do not get better as expected.