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Genital Warts

A highly contagious sexually transmitted infection. Caused by some types of human papillomavirus.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: Wiktionary)

About Genital Warts

An infection with low-risk HPV types like HPV 6 and 11 can sometimes cause unpleasant but harmless warts (called condylomas) in the genital and/or anal area. Both men and women are affected by these. Many of these warts cannot be seen or felt, others form hard nodules with an uneven surface. Their sizes range from just a few millimeters to several centimeters, and they may be a reddish, brownish, or whitish color. They usually appear in clusters. Depending on their size and location, they can cause symptoms like itching or burning.

Genital warts can be treated locally with a medication (an ointment or a solution), or they can be removed surgically. Individual treatment options depend on the texture and the location of the warts, and on how far they have spread.
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

5‐FU for genital warts in nonimmunocompromised individuals

Genital warts is one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infection, with an estimated occurrence of about 32 million cases worldwide each year. The warts affect the genital area and cause such symptoms as itching, burning, discomfort, pain, or bleeding with intercourse. Because of the recurrence and the stigma associated with genital warts, frequently there are psychological burdens associated with the disease that possibly could become traumatic as feeling of shame, worry, fear, anger, and lowered self‐esteem develop. Lesions can spread on one person and because they are easily spread between people, genital warts potentially can be a serious public health problem. There are many options for treating genital warts, but none so far are superior to the others. At this time, there is no available evidence that treatment efficiently eliminates genital warts or hinders its progression to malignancy. This review evaluated the effectiveness and safety of topical 5‐FU for treatment of genital warts in nonimmunocompromised individuals. Evidence from the studies we reviewed showed that 5‐FU had better results for cure than placebo or no treatment; MCSA; and Podophylin 2%, 4% or 25%. No statistical difference was found when 5‐FU was compared with CO2 Laser treatment, and results were poor when 5‐FU was compared with 5‐FU + INFα‐2a (high dose) or 5‐FU + CO2 Laser INFα‐2a (high dose). The weak point of this review was the great variability in the methods and quality of the studies that we included.

5-aminolevulinic acid-based photodynamic therapy for the treatment of condylomata acuminata in Chinese patients: a meta-analysis

OBJECTIVE: This meta-analysis was designed to assess the efficacy of topical 5-aminolaevulinic acid (ALA) photodynamic therapy (PDT) in Chinese patients with condylomata acuminata (CA).

Topical treatments for skin warts

Viral warts are a common skin disease, most frequently affecting the hands and feet, caused by the human papilloma virus. While warts are not harmful and usually go away in time without any treatment, they can be unsightly and painful. Warts on the soles of the feet are also called 'plantar warts' or 'verrucas'.

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Summaries for consumers

5‐FU for genital warts in nonimmunocompromised individuals

Genital warts is one of the most common types of sexually transmitted infection, with an estimated occurrence of about 32 million cases worldwide each year. The warts affect the genital area and cause such symptoms as itching, burning, discomfort, pain, or bleeding with intercourse. Because of the recurrence and the stigma associated with genital warts, frequently there are psychological burdens associated with the disease that possibly could become traumatic as feeling of shame, worry, fear, anger, and lowered self‐esteem develop. Lesions can spread on one person and because they are easily spread between people, genital warts potentially can be a serious public health problem. There are many options for treating genital warts, but none so far are superior to the others. At this time, there is no available evidence that treatment efficiently eliminates genital warts or hinders its progression to malignancy. This review evaluated the effectiveness and safety of topical 5‐FU for treatment of genital warts in nonimmunocompromised individuals. Evidence from the studies we reviewed showed that 5‐FU had better results for cure than placebo or no treatment; MCSA; and Podophylin 2%, 4% or 25%. No statistical difference was found when 5‐FU was compared with CO2 Laser treatment, and results were poor when 5‐FU was compared with 5‐FU + INFα‐2a (high dose) or 5‐FU + CO2 Laser INFα‐2a (high dose). The weak point of this review was the great variability in the methods and quality of the studies that we included.

Cervical cancer: Human papillomaviruses (HPV)

Human papillomaviruses, or HPV for short, are so common that most men and women will become infected at some point in their lives. These infections do not usually cause any problems. But some types of HPV can cause harmless warts, and others increase the risk of cervical cancer.Papillomaviruses are germs that can cause inflammation and changes of the skin. Some of them only infect humans, which is why they are called human papillomaviruses (HPV). They probably get into the skin and mucous membranes through small cuts or wounds and then multiply inside the cells. HPV is transmitted by direct contact with infected areas of skin or mucous membrane. HPV infection usually goes unnoticed, does not cause any symptoms and clears up on its own.More than 100 different types of HPV are currently known. Some cause warts on the skin (also called papillomas). About 40 types of HPV infect the skin in the genital area and are transmitted sexually. They are called “genital HPV”. Other types infect the face, hands or feet.Genital HPV viruses can be differentiated into high-risk types (hrHPV) and low-risk types (lrHPV). Low-risk HPV can cause warts in the genital area, which are also called condylomas. Although they are often unpleasant, they are not dangerous. The most common types of lrHPV are HPV 6 and 11.

Warts: Overview

Almost everyone has a wart at some point in their life. They are contagious and hard to get rid of. Children and young people are especially at risk: They often get them at the swimming pool or after doing sports. How can you protect yourself from these annoying warts – and how can you get rid of them?

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Terms to know

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
A type of virus that can cause abnormal tissue growth (for example, warts) and other changes to cells.
Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV Infection)
A type of virus that can cause abnormal tissue growth (for example, warts) and other changes to cells. Infection for a long time with certain types of human papillomavirus can cause cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus may also play a role in some other types of cancer.
Viral Infections
A general term for diseases produced by viruses.
Warts (Papillomas)
A raised growth on the surface of the skin or other organ.

More about Genital Warts

Photo of a young adult

Also called: Anogenital warts, Condyloma acuminata, Genital HPV, Verruca acuminata

Other terms to know: See all 4
Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Human Papillomavirus Infection (HPV Infection), Viral Infections

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