What are genital warts?
Genital warts are one of the most common STIs (sexually transmitted infections). They usually present as a single or a group of bumps in the genital area. The texture of the lesions can be cauliflower-like (but they may also be smooth or flat as well) and the sizes can vary. The lesions are often skin-colored or hyperpigmented (darker than the rest of the skin). They are sometimes mistaken as moles, seborrheic keratoses, skin tags, or other skin lesions.
What is the cause of genital warts?
HPV (human papillomavirus) infections are the cause of genital warts. Most of the people infected with HPV have no symptoms whatsoever
HPV can cause cancer
There are over 150 subtypes of HPV. Most types of HPV are low-risk and only lead to benign warts. Other types of HPV are high-risk and can cause genital or oral cancers. Therefore, it is extremely important to prevent, properly diagnose, and treat HPV infections as soon as possible to eliminate the risk of annoying infections or development of possible cancers.
Read more about HPV and relation to warts and cancer
How do people contract genital warts?
HPV is transmitted through intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV by having unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone that carries the virus.
Genital warts can be a silent infection!
You or your partner may never be aware of being infected with HPV or have any known history of genital warts, but can still be a carrier of the virus. Majority of HPV carriers do not display any symptoms. Therefore, the virus can be easily and unknowingly transmitted during sexual intercourse.
How common are HPV infections?
HPV is the most common STI in the U.S. About 80 million people (roughly one in four) are currently infected with HPV in the U.S. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), nearly all men and women who are sexually active will be infected at some point in their life.
Wow!!! 80 million people infected with HPV in the U.S.?
Yes! But there is good news:
- Only certain types of HPV out of over 150 types are associated with genital warts or cancers.
- Most of the time, the body gets rid of the infection by itself over a two year time period
- We have screening tests that detect high-risk types of HPV for females
- We can treat HPV induced genital warts when they are present
- We have vaccinations to increase immunity against HPV infections
- People at high risk for HPV can be educated on how to reduce their risk of infection
How can a diagnosis of genital warts be confirmed if you find a genital lesion?
Warts are typically diagnosed clinically by dermatologists with the use of a handheld magnifying device called a dermoscope. If the lesions have typical features of genital warts, then our dermatologists will treat them as warts during the same visit. If the diagnosis is uncertain or there is no response to the conventional wart therapy, then our dermatologists may perform a biopsy of the lesion to confirm the diagnosis.
Can a blood test show genital warts or HPV infection
Unlike many other STIs, there is no blood test to diagnose genital warts. A vaginal smear can determine infection with high-risk HPV infections, however, a swab test for male genital lesions does not exist currently.
Genital warts and risk for other STIs
Our dermatologists recommend that any patient with one STI be tested for the other common STIs as well. This provides peace of mind for both the patients and doctors.
We can offer complete STI/STD panel testing!!
You can be tested at OC MedDerm for any STDs symptoms or concerns you may be experiencing. We will ensure proper treatment for you and your partner if necessary. Testing can be as simple as a clinical evaluation, urine/blood analysis, culture, or biopsy (if needed).
Certain types of STIs can be treated immediately!
For certain STIs, we can treat you immediately in the office. A single injection or a single pill by mouth can take care of the infection completely.
We have the answer to any of your symptoms or concerns!
You can be tested right here in our office for any symptoms or concerns you may be experiencing. For certain STIs, we may also recommend and offer simultaneous treatment of your partner. We ensure proper treatment for you and your partner if needed.
If you have any concerns or symptoms regarding possible STIs, you can see our dermatologists to be evaluated, educated, diagnosed, and treated if needed. You can make an appointment for both you and your partner.