|Genital Warts Facts & Data
Genital warts is the most common sexually transmitted infection around the world and can affect men and women equally. It is caused by several strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and has no known cure. It can affect both the genital and mouth and throat areas on males and females, and in some cases can lead to serious health problems, although those cases are rare. There is no way to know who will develop problems related to HPV and who will not.
Anyone who has had or is having sex is at risk of HPV and genital warts. It is spread through skin to skin contact with an infected person. It is not necessary to have penetrative sex to contact HPV, and condoms will not prevent all risk of infection as they do not cover 100 percent of the genital area. Many infected people do not realize they are infected and can continue to pass on the infection years after they have had sex with an infected person.
Many infected people will never experience any symptoms or health problems related to their HPV infections. Those who do may experience small soft to the touch flesh-colored bumps that can grow in more than one place either individually or in larger clusters. Symptoms usually develop anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months after becoming infected, but it may take as long as a few years for symptoms to develop.
Genital warts have responded to many types of treatment including over-the-counter treatments using Salicylic Acid. There are many natural remedies as well, often containing apple cider vinegar. Common prescription treatments include Imiquimod or Podophyllin. Surgical treatments include trichloroacetic acid which burns off genital warts or electrocautery which uses an electrical current to burn them off, cryotheraphy which involves freeing around the wart, laser treatments or surgical excision which uses a local anesthesia. Regardless of what treatment you chose, genital warts are likely to recur. Consult with a doctor for your best treatment options.
Genital Warts Questions
FAQ: How common are genital warts?
The human papilloma virus is incredibly common, with around 79 million Americans currently infected and another 14 million people infected each year. Genital warts, which is most often caused by two strains, type 6 and type 11, are less common. Around 5.5 million Americans are already infected and around 360,000 people in the United States are infected with genital warts each year.
FAQ: What is the difference between genital warts and HPV?
HPV or human papilloma virus is the virus that causes genital warts. There are over 100 different types of HPV, but only a few cause genital warts; 90% of cases are caused by types 6 or 11. Other types of HPV can cause warts on the hands, called planters warts, or on other parts of the body, and certain types, called high-risk types, can lead to cervical or anal cancer. It is possible to have more than one type of HPV at a time.
FAQ: Are some people more at risk for genital warts than others?
Anyone can contract the human papilloma virus (HPV) which causes genital warts. In that regards, it does not matter if a person has only one sexual partner or many; however, the risk of spreading genital warts does increase with the more sexual partners a person has. Additional risk factors include the use of tobacco and alcohol, being pregnant, having a weakened immune system as a result of an illness, or having a viral infection such as herpes while experiencing a large amount of stress in your life.
FAQ: How do I know if I have genital warts?
The best way to know if you have genital warts is to educate yourself on their signs and symptoms. Genital warts vary in appearance and in number; they can be so tiny and flat you can’t see them, or large and raised and obviously visible. They can occur singularly or in clusters that can resemble a cauliflower. They typically grow in the warm moist areas surrounding the genitalia. In women they can be found inside both the vagina and anus, or on skin surrounding either. In men they can be found on the shaft of the penis, around the scrotum and groin area, and inside or around the anus. Genital warts can also occur in the throat or on the lips, mouth, or tongue.
However, not every bump is a wart and it is important to see a doctor if you suspect you have genital warts. Other conditions such as syphilis, hemorrhoids, pearly penile papules, skin tags, and pimples can often be easily mistaken for genital warts.