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Genital Warts


Genital warts

are a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Genital warts are growths that appear in or on the penis, vagina, or anus. Genital warts are spread during genital, anal, or oral sex. A woman can also pass them to a baby when she gives birth.

Signs and symptoms of genital warts:

Genital warts are flat or dome shaped and can be pink, red, or brown. As the warts grow, your skin may itch or burn. Warts can be painful if they grow together. Over time the warts may look like cauliflower. They may feel moist and rough when you touch them.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your genital warts return.
  • The skin that is being treated for genital warts is very painful or swollen.
  • You see or feel new warts on another part of your body.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Treatment for genital warts

may include topical medicines, cryotherapy, or electrocautery to remove the warts. Your healthcare provider may also use laser therapy. You may need surgery to remove the warts.


  • Do not touch or scratch the warts. This can cause the infection to spread to other parts of your body.
  • Do not have sex while you are being treated for genital warts. Medicine used on your skin weakens condoms and diaphragms. You also risk spreading genital warts to your partner.
  • Get regular Pap smears. If you are a woman, this can help diagnose HPV and prevent the spread of the virus.

Prevent genital warts:

  • Tell your sexual partners that you are being treated for genital warts. They may also be infected and need treatment.
  • Get the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is given at 9 to 26 years of age to help prevent cervical cancer and genital warts. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about this vaccine.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.