Genital warts are a type of sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is a common type of STI and most sexually active young people become infected with the virus. The prognosis of genital warts depends on the stage of the infection.
- Everyone who is infected with HPV does not develop genital warts. In many people the warts may not be obvious. The warts which are not seen by naked eye, can become noticeable after applying a 3- to 5-percent acetic acid solution (vinegar is 5-percent acetic acid).
- Many people with HPV infection may never develop any symptoms or problems from the infection. But they may transmit the infection to current and sometimes future sexual partners.
- Proper treatment can control genital wart outbreaks. However, treatment for warts does not cure the infection and so even after treatment for genital warts, you may still infect others. Treatment for warts just removes the outward symptoms of the HPV virus; it does not eradicate the virus. Recurrence of genital warts is very common (more than 50% after one year). It is not possible to predict if you will have recurrence of warts after treatment, as the immune response of people is varied. Some of the causes of recurrence are:
- Recurrent infection from your sexual partner.
- Long incubation period of the virus.
- Persistence of infection (HPV) in the surrounding skin, hair follicle, or areas which are missed during treatment.
- Persistence of infection in deep lesions or lesions that are not detected.
- In women genital warts may appear or increase in number in pregnancy. The warts on the cervix or vagina can complicate delivery as they tend to bleed easily and can infect the newborn (when delivered vaginally). HPV can cause a serious infection in infants called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP). The condition can be life-threatening as the papillomas or warts can block the child's airway.
- In many people the body may be able to successfully fight off the virus on its own. However, in the case of women, if the infection is left untreated, it increases the risk of cervical cancer in women.
Some of the complications of genital warts include:
- If infection with certain strains of HPV persists in women it can cause cancer of the cervix and vulva.
- If the warts become numerous and quite large, extensive treatment including surgery may be needed.
- Transmission of infection from the mother to her baby can cause a life-threatening condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP).
Read more articles on Genital Warts Diagnosis and Prognosis