Condyloma acuminatum is the medical term for warts that occur in the genital area, including the urethra (the tube taking urine from the bladder to outside the body) and anus. Genital warts are thought to be one of the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD). People who are 17 to 33 years old are at greatest risk of getting genital warts.
The cause is the same human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes other warts. About 90% are caused by HPV-6 and HPV-11. These warts are much more contagious than other warts and are easily passed from skin of infected people. After exposure, warts appear in 1 to 6 months. Having multiple sex partners and prior history of STD are risk factors for getting these warts.
People usually have no symptoms, but itching, burning, and discharge can occur if the warts become irritated or infected. These warts appear on moist surfaces, such as the penis and the entrance to the vagina and rectum. They grow in clusters, as small pink or white nodules. The warts are small, but the clusters can quickly become very large, cauliflower-like masses. Complications of untreated warts can include cervical cancer in females and urinary blockage in males if they occur on the urethra.
The health care provider will make a diagnosis by the look of the warts at physical examination. The health care provider may also do a culture or biopsy of the area. Testing may also be done for other STDs.
A health care provider should treat genital warts. Don’t use over-the-counter wart removers. Topical medicines such as imiquimod, 5-fluorouracil, podofilox, and trichloroacetic acid cream can be applied to small warts. Larger warts may be treated with liquid nitrogen. Laser treatment or surgical removal may be needed. Warts commonly come back, so treatment may need to be repeated. The health care provider may prescribe ointment to apply at home.
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