Introduction to Genital Warts
Genital Warts or venereal warts are caused by HPV (human papilloma virus). When this virus infects a person, warts start appearing on the genitals. While some warts are asymptotic and people may not even realize that they are having it, some appear on the genital areas giving a reason of embarrassment and lifelong struggle to manage them.
They are soft growths which can cause itching and pain. The human papilloma virus is the most prevailing form of sexually transmitted infection (STI). Genital warts appear on areas like penis, groin, thighs, anal region, vaginal tracts and cervix. There is no remedy for removing HPV completely, but the visible warts can be removed either by topical applications (Podophyllotoxin, Imiquimod, Trichloroacetic acid) or physical ablation (Cryotherapy, Excision, Electrosurgery, etc).
Genital warts cannot be cured or removed permanently as long as HPV is active in the body. The visible warts can be temporarily removed by over-the-counter medications or physical ablations as mentioned above, but the chances of recurrences are present if the virus still lingers in the body. There are no medications available in the market to stop the flare-ups of genital warts, but a good routine and hygiene can help reduce the number of flare-ups you experience.
Causes of Genital Warts
Genital warts are caused due to weakened immune system. When our immune system is weak, it is unable to fight the HPV. There are several factors that can weaken our immune system and stress is one of them. If you have HPV, you will realize that most outbreaks occur when you are stressed out. Smoking, drug use, binge drinking and lack of sleep can also affect the functionality of immune system.
Poor diet can also be a factor that weakens the immune system. Consuming a diet rich in refined sugars and saturated fats inhibits the body from performing at peak performance. Vitamins and minerals are extremely vital For optimal immune system and good health. Eating high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables can boost your immunity. You can also take multivitamins if your diet is not proper due to a busy lifestyle. Apart from that, exercising regularly and doing yoga would strengthen the body. Both these will reduce stress and help you sleep better at night.
Are You Under Risk?
As mentioned earlier, genital warts are commonly caused by human papilloma virus. These viruses are transmitted through skin to skin contact. Any sexually active person is at a risk of contracting the infection. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) claims that nearly half of the people who indulge in sex have had some type of papilloma viral infection. The warts might get bigger during pregnancy. If the warts are found inside the vagina, the vagina will not be able to stretch much during labor.
What Makes the Warts Flare Up?
Individuals infected with genital warts posses fleshy growths that appear around the genitals mostly after three months upon contracting the infection. The growths are usually painless but can be hideous. During the initial weeks of infection, small red bumps appear on the affected areas that may grow larger later. Mostly they are seen on damp body areas near the genitals.
Foods That Increase Flare-Ups of Genital Warts
Foods containing high amounts of arganine may increase the flare-ups of genital warts. Therefore, you must eliminate such foods from your diet. Some of the foods that you must avoid are alcohol, nuts and seeds, certain cereals, cheese, yogurt, caffeine, certain types of fish such as salmon, snapper and catfish.
How to Prevent Flare-Ups?
The best way to prevent the flare-ups of genital warts is to avoid the triggering factors as mentioned above. Avoid stress and relax yourself with yoga and meditation. Eat a healthy diet and avoid smoking and drinking. Apart from that rough sex must be avoided and condoms must be used to prevent the transmission and risk of further infection. Getting enough sleep and engaging in physical activity in the form of exercise can also help a lot.
If you notice warts in your genital area, consult a doctor immediately. After primary observation, if the doctor finds anything suspicious, smear test is advised. Smear test is conducted by taking a swab of the affected area to identify the presence of HPV. Certain types of HPV may cause abnormal results on a Pap smear which may indicate precancerous changes. If your doctor observes these aberrant changes, you may need more frequent screenings to monitor these changes. Sexual partners should also be checked for the symptoms since they fall under the high risk category.
Early Preventive Measures
Prevention is better than cure. You can prevent genital warts to a great extend if you follow the tips mentioned below.
1. Vaccination- Gardasil, an HPV vaccine can protect both men and women from the most common HPV strains that cause genital warts and can also protect against strains of HPV that are connected with cervical cancer. A vaccine called Cervarix is also available. This vaccine protects against cervical cancer, but not against genital warts. The ideal period for vaccination is before the person becomes sexually active.
2. Condoms- Using condoms are often recommended unless you have the intention of having a child. Condom protects you from sexually transmitted diseases most of the time.
3. Limit the number of partners or if possible abstain from sex.
4. Quit smoking- Smokers are more prone to genital warts than non smokers. Recurrence of warts is high in the case of smokers.
Some inexpensive home remedies are known for treating genital warts. While there is little evidence to support this statement, you can definitely give them a try after consulting your doctor. Applying oils like tea tree oil or castor oil on warts using a cotton ball is a good choice.
At present, there are no ways to prevent the flare-ups of genital warts because there are a variety of factors that decide when and where genital outbreaks could occur. However, there are certain measures that you can take to minimize the flare-ups. Though genital warts are not life threatening, in most cases they can be extremely infectious even if symptoms and outbreaks are not present.