What Do Genital Warts Look Like
Genital warts are a common sexually transmitted infection. They are caused by a very common virus, human papillomavirus, or HPV. Most strains of warts are caused by HPV, not by touching toads or frogs, contrary to the old wives" tale. Each strain of HPV usually infects a specific part of the anatomy, although sometimes they can infect different areas of the body.
Genital warts can vary in appearance. They may:
- Look like small pink or red growths or lumps
- Appear as flat lesions
- Look like small parts of a cauliflower
- Be very tiny and difficult to see
- Appear in clusters or all alone
- Grow and spread rapidly
- Cause bleeding
- Cause mild pain
Genital warts can appear in several areas:
- Inside the vagina
- On the cervix
- On the vulva
- On the tip of the penis
- On the shaft of the penis
- On the scrotum
- On the anus
- On the perineum (the area between the genitals and anus)
- Less commonly, on the legs or buttocks
- In the mouth if transferred during oral sex
If you think you might have genital warts or another sexually transmitted infection, see your health practitioner as soon as possible. Certain strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer in women. The presence of HPV may indicate possible infection with other dangerous sexually transmitted infections, like HIV, syphilis, Chlamydia, or gonorrhea.
Usually, your immune system will overcome the HPV and your warts will go away. However, some people are unable to shake the infection.
There are many treatment options available for stubborn genital warts. Topical creams, freezing, or burning the warts, as well as surgical removal of the warts are all common treatments.
It is much better to prevent an HPV infection than it is to treat one. Although most people will get HPV at some point in their life, there are measures you can take to avoid contracting the strains that cause genital warts.
- Avoid sexual contact with people who have genital warts. This means avoiding all contact, including anal, genital, and oral contact.
- Have protected sex. Although using a condom does not prevent HPV 100% of the time because it cannot cover all possible infected areas, it does greatly reduce the chances of transmission.
- Limit the number of sexual partners you have. Do not have sex with people you don't know. Discuss sexual history and any possible STIs before engaging in sexual contact with someone.
- If you are a woman, consider getting the HPV vaccine. It is most effective for young girls who have not had sexual contact. If you have never had genital warts it may help prevent infection. However, there are some dangers associated with the vaccine.