Genital warts are growths that look like cauliflowers. In men, they appear on the penis, scrotum, groin, thighs, in or around the anus. In women, they appear inside and outside the vagina, anus and on the cervix. They may also appear as flat lesions or small, stem-like lumps. Because of their appearance, those who suffer them may be very concerned about how to remove genital warts.
Genital warts come from certain kinds of HPV (human papillomavirus) transmitted through sexual contact (oral, vaginal and anal). Of the over 120 strains of HPV, only types 6 and 11 cause genital warts.
They appear many weeks or months after infection.
Not all genital warts are visible to the naked eye. Some may be tiny and are of similar color to one’s skin, or a bit darker. Their tops may feel smooth or slightly bumpy to the touch.
Other warts appear on the lips, mouth, tongue and/or throat.
The warts can occur singly or in clusters of pink or flesh-colored growth.
What are the symptoms of genital warts?
You should watch out for:
- Burning sensation
- Vaginal discharge
If not treated promptly, genital warts can increase in size or coverage area and cause discomfort and pain. This makes it important to know how to remove genital warts.
What causes genital warts?
The most frequent cause of genital warts is HPV. Thirty to forty strains of HPV affect the genitals, but only a few of them actually lead to genital warts.
Skin-to-skin contact makes the HPV virus highly contagious. This is why genital warts is considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
The virus is so common, the Center for Disease Control Prevention in the US reports that most sexually active people will get the infection. A 2019 report says that over 22% of the US population has been infected by HPV.
In the Philippines, Dr. Grace Carole Beltran, an STD (sexually transmitted disease) specialist estimates that four out of five women may have been exposed or infected by HPV.
A study conducted in 2017 showed that over 60% of cases were from recent tests, adding to the high resource cost of health care for genital warts.
The HPV strains behind genital warts are not the same as those that cause warts on your hands or other body parts. A wart doesn’t spread from the hands to the genitals and vice-versa.
What are the risk factors for genital warts?
Although the sexually active are more prone to HPV, certain types of people are just as vulnerable to the infection. These are:
- Those below 30 years old
- People with weak immunity
- Victims of child abuse
- Offspring of mothers infected with the virus during childbirth
What are the complications of genital warts?
HPV infection can lead to serious complications, meaning it is important to know how to remove genital warts. Complications include:
- Cervical cancer and dysplasia, or precancerous changes to cells of the cervix
- Cancer of the vulva, and penile and anal cancer
How does the doctor diagnose genital warts?
You will need to discuss your health and sexual history with your doctor, including any experience with oral sex and intercourse without condom or other forms of protection. You will also undergo a physical examination at the site where the genital warts are suspected to lodge.
Women who suspect they have genital warts must undergo medical tests like:
- A pelvic examination, since warts can gro deep within the body.
- A Pap test
- A colposcopy, which shows a magnified view of the cervix, the vagina and the vulva,
- A DNA test that shows what HPV strain is in your body. No DNA test is available for men.
How do you prevent genital warts?
The HPV vaccines Gardasil and Gardasil 9 can shield men and women from HPV strains that cause genital warts, and protect against strains linked to cervical cancer. It is recommended that you consult your doctor before taking new medication.
The vaccines can be given to those aged 9 to 45, and taken in two to three doses, depending on the person’s age. Both vaccines should be given before someone becomes sexually active, since they work best before HPV exposure.
Wearing a condom or dental dam during sexual contact can also decrease the risk of getting genital warts. It’s important to have a physical barrier to prevent infection.
Routine screening for HPV and cervical cancer also helps.
There is no cure for HPV, but like many illnesses, genital warts that come as a result of the virus may be treated the traditional or non-traditional way. Here is how to remove genital warts:
The traditional way involves:
- topical creams/ solutions
- cryotherapy, which freezes and removes the tissue
- luster therapy
- surgery to remove infected tissue
Don’t take over-the-counter treatments for hand warts because a different HPV strain is responsible for genital warts. This may cuase the problem to worsen.
Non-traditional treatments have not received the full blessing of the medical community. It’s best to ask to consult your doctor first before trying the following remedies:
- Tea tree oil: Applying a drop of tea tree oil mixed with a drop or two of a carrier oil on a wart can help remove it. Never ingest the tea tree oil or directly apply it in the vagina.
- Green tea extract: Mix a drop or two with coconut oil and apply
- Garlic extract: Apply directly on the wart, or soak garlic extract on a gauze pad, mixed with oil. Apply on the warts.
- Apple cider vinegar: Soak on an ear bud, cotton ball, or gauze, and apply directly.
- Eating vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale can help banish genital warts. Four to five servings daily are recommended.
- Folate and B-12: Deficiency in folate and B12 may raise the risk of getting HPV.
- Eat foods that help the body heal faster, like antioxidant-rich blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, bell peppers and squash, dark leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, whole grains, almonds, beans and lean meats.
Always consult with your doctor for how to remove genital warts.
Genital warts clear up after some time, but they must be treated at once to prevent recurrence. See your doctor, and talk to your partner to look for the best possible treatments.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.