Symptoms and Signs of Genital Warts (HPV Infection)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 6/30/2022

Doctor's Notes on Genital Warts (HPV Infection)

Genital warts are warts that occur on or around the regions of the genital organs or anus. Genital warts are caused by an infection with certain types of human papillomaviruses (HPVs). They may occur in men and women. HPV infection is very common, and not all people with HPV infection will develop genital warts. 

Genital warts appear as raised, flesh-colored bumps or lumps that sometimes have a jagged or rough appearance. Associated symptoms can include itching and burning, but in many cases, there may be no other signs or symptoms except for the presence of the warts. Genital warts can develop in any location that is exposed during skin-to-skin sexual contact. If women have genital warts in the vagina, an abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding may occur.

What is the treatment of genital warts?

Genital warts may not require treatment if they do not produce symptoms.

  • There are a number of medications that can be applied directly to the affected area to treat genital warts. These are different from over-the-counter wart removal treatments, which should not be used for genital warts.
  • Removal of larger warts may require surgical removal procedures including laser treatments, electrical current application, freezing with liquid nitrogen, or surgical excision.
  • Genital warts may recur after successful treatment.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.