Viral infections

Genital Warts

Genital warts are caused a virus (usually the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)) and although they can appear anywhere on the body, when they are in or around the sexual organs are known as Genital Warts. They are the second most common STI detected and treated at sexual health clinics.

What is it?

These warts are fleshy growths (a bit like cauliflower florets in shape). They can appear in and around the vagina, the anus, the penis or on the scrotum. Usually, they are not painful but can cause irritation. They are passed on by skin-to-skin contact with the warts.

Once somebody is infected with HPV, they will always have the virus (which lives under the skin) even if they have warts or not. People are only infectious when they have the warts.

Treatment

Warts can be treated in one of four ways:

  • cryotherapy – freezing the warts using liquid nitrogen
  • painting the warts with an anti-wart liquid
  • hyfrecation – burning the warts off with an electric current
  • laser treatment

This treatment may take weeks or months to clear the warts.

Once treated some people will have further outbreaks of warts from time-to-time while others will not. Therefore, a regular check-up is recommended, not least because there is also a possible link between Genital Warts and Cervical and Anal Cancer.