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Genital Warts (cont.)

Is There a Test to Diagnose Genital Warts (HPV)?

Diagnosis is often based on findings from the history and appearance of the genital warts.

  • Sometimes, lesions are only visible with an enhancing technique called acetowhitening. This technique involves the application of 5% acetic acid solution to the area of suspicion for about 5-10 minutes. Infected areas will turn white.
  • Magnification of the area (colposcopy) using a scope may be necessary to see the lesions. In females, a colposcope may be used to look for lesions in the vaginal canal and on the cervix.
  • A routine Pap smear should always be done in order to look for evidence of HPV infection and abnormal cells on the cervix.
  • A biopsy can be performed if the lesion appears unusual or recurs after treatment.
  • Special laboratory tests can also be used to confirm the presence of HPV infection.

What Natural or Home Remedies Treat Genital Warts (HPV)?

Because genital warts essentially have no symptoms other than their appearance, there is little need for home treatment. It is important, however, to recognize that the warts exist.

  • Take the necessary precautions to prevent trauma to the area, which can result in bleeding.
  • Be careful to prevent transmission to a sexual partner.
  • Because the warts themselves are infectious, avoid touching them. Do not pick or squeeze the warts.

What Is the Treatment for Genital Warts (HPV)?

There is no single effective cure for removal of genital warts. A number of treatment options exist; however, no treatment is 100% effective in eliminating warts and preventing them from coming back in all patients. It also is not possible to eliminate infection with human papillomavirus once it has occurred. Genital warts may go away on their own in about 10% to 20% of people over a period of three to four months.

  • Cryotherapy: This technique freezes the wart using liquid nitrogen or a "cryoprobe." It is an excellent first-line treatment because response rates are high with few side effects.
  • Laser treatment: This treatment is used for extensive or recurrent genital warts. It may require local, regional, or general anesthesia. The laser physically destroys the HPV-induced lesion. Disadvantages include high cost, increased healing time, scarring, and potentially infectious viral particles in the air caused by the laser plume.
  • Electrodesiccation: This technique uses an electric current to destroy the warts. It can be done in the office with local anesthesia. Of note, the resulting smoke plume may be infectious.

What Medications Treat Genital Warts (HPV)?

Several medications exist for treating genital warts and can be used as an alternative to other treatments.

  • Podophyllum resin (Pod-Ben-25, Podofin) is topically applied by a health-care professional.
  • Podofilox (Condylox) can be topically applied at home and has a higher cure rate than podophyllum resin. Podofilox also is useful for prevention.
  • Trichloroacetic acid or bichloracetic acid is topically applied; however, the response is often incomplete and recurrence is higher and it may cause pain and burning.
  • 5-Fluorouracil (Efudex) is applied as a cream, has a long treatment time, can cause burning and irritation, and has many side effects.
  • Interferon alpha-n3 (Alferon N) is an injection used for warts that do not respond to other therapies; however, it has many side effects.
  • Imiquimod (Aldara) is applied as a cream and local skin irritation is a common side effect.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/2/2017

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Warts, Genital »

Until the 19th century, genital warts (GWs) were believed to be a form of syphilis or gonorrhea.

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