Genital warts can be present without causing any symptoms in many patients. If the warts do not cause discomfort, you may not need treatment. But if you have symptoms such as itching, burning and pain or the warts are causing emotional distress; treatment (medications or surgery) can help to restrict an outbreak. Treatment does not cure infection with HPV; hence the warts and other associated symptoms can recur after treatment. Medications: Topical medications (gel or cream form) are usually the first line of treatment for genital warts. On application, these medications attack and break down the wart tissue. Genital warts can be treated, both in a doctor's office and at home.
- Imiquimod: Your immune system can fight off the HPV virus on its own, but when it doesn't, you develop genital warts. If the infection persists, it can increase the risk of cervical cancer in women. The cream boosts your immune system and improves your body’s ability to fight genital warts. You can apply the medication yourself at home. Do not have sex when you apply the cream on your skin as it may weaken condoms and diaphragms and increase your partner’s risk of getting infected. Also if the cream gets on his/her skin, it can irritate the skin.
- Podophyllin and podofilox: Podophyllin is a plant-based medication. When applied on the genital wart it destroys the wart tissue. This medication is applied on the wart by a doctor and should not be used for self-application at home. Podofilox has the same active compound, but you can apply it yourself at home. The first application of podofilox should be done preferably at a doctor’s office. The medication should not be used internally and during pregnancy.
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA): TCA should always be applied by a doctor. It burns off genital warts. Genital warts are caused by strains of HPV which are different from the strains that cause warts on other parts of your body. In addition, the genital area is more sensitive than other parts of the body. Therefore, do not try the regular, over-the-counter wart treatments for genital warts. Use of over-the-counter medications can increase the pain and irritation.
If the warts are big in size or the warts don't respond to medications, your doctor may recommend surgery for genital warts. Surgery may also be advised if you are pregnant as the baby may be exposed to it during delivery. Surgical options for genital warts include:
- Freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy): Application of liquid nitrogen causes blisters to form around your wart. This causes the skin and the wart to peel off, giving way to new skin. Some people may need repeated cryotherapy treatments.
- Electrocautery: In this procedure electrical current is used to burn off warts.
- Surgical excision: The doctor may cut off the warts using special tools.
- Laser treatments: In this procedure, an intense beam of light is used to destroy the warts. As the treatment is expensive it is usually done for people with very extensive and tough-to-treat warts.
Read more articles on Genital Warts Treatment