Healthy Living

What are the Treatment Options for Genital Warts?

What are the Treatment Options for Genital Warts?

Genital Warts is an STD in which a person develops soft growth on the genital areas.  Though the visible warts go away on their own, it becomes difficult to treat them when HPV virus enters the bloodstream. There is no remedy for removing HPV completely but the visible warts can be removed either by topical applications or physical ablation.

Topical Treatment

There are several topical creams available for treating genital warts. Your doctor may recommend any of the following topical medications after analyzing your condition:

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1) Podophyllotoxin: This topical medication which comes in liquid form is used to treat a cluster of warts. Its toxic effect on the wart cells removes them with time. Mild irritation may occur when you apply the liquid. A special application stick is used to draw up the correct dosage of the liquid which is then dripped on to the wart.  You may experience a mild irritation when you apply the cream or the liquid. Cream is applied in areas where the liquid application is difficult.

2) Imiquimod: This topical medication which comes in the form of cream is used to treat large warts. It works by stimulating your immune system to attack the warts. Mild skin irritation may occur when you apply the cream. You must apply the cream to the warts and wash it off after 6 hours. This should be done continuously for three weeks.

Imiquimod should be avoided if you are pregnant.

3) Trichloroacetic acid (TCA): It is used to treat hard-to-remove large warts. It destroys the proteins inside the wart cells to remove them completely. An intense burning sensation for around 5 to 10 minutes may occur after the application. It is advisable to apply TCA with the help of a doctor or a nurse because if it is not applied properly, it can damage the healthy skin. It is safe to use during pregnancy.

Physical Ablation

Following are the 4 methods of physical ablation:

1) Cryotherapy: This is used to treat a cluster of small warts, especially those that are formed near the vulva or the shaft of the penis. In this method, the warts are frozen using liquid nitrogen. Mild to moderate burning sensation may occur during the treatment. You may experience skin irritation and pain at the place of wart after the treatment. Avoid having sex until the area of the skin around the wart has healed completely.

2) Excision: This is done to treat a cluster of small, hardened warts that join together to form a cauliflower-like shape. The warts are cut away using a surgical scalpel during this procedure. The remaining incision is sealed with stitches. Since this is painful, this treatment is followed after giving local anaesthesia to the patient. After the treatment, you may experience soreness and tenderness for around 1 to 3 weeks at the place where the warts were removed.

3) Electrosurgery: This is done to treat large warts that form around the vulva or anus. When the outer cluster of the warts is removed during excision, a metal loop is pressed against the wart. The electric current is then passed through it to burn away the remaining part of the wart. This treatment is also followed after giving local anaesthesia to the patient.

4) Laser Surgery: This surgery is performed to treat large warts that are difficult to access such as the ones that are present deep inside the anus or urethra. In this procedure, a laser is used by the surgeon to burn away the cells of warts. This treatment is also followed after giving local anaesthesia to the patient. After the procedure, you may experience soreness and irritation at the place where the warts were removed.

It has been found that all the above-mentioned treatment options are more effective in people who do not smoke. Hence if you are a habitual smoker, quit it now to increase the effectiveness of these treatments and speed up the recovery process.

After the Treatment of Genital Warts

  • Genital warts and sex: It is recommended that you do not have sex either anal or oral until your genital warts are healed completely. This prevents the spread of infection. Also, when having sex, the skin friction causes the treated skin to become irritated and inflamed. Therefore, avoiding sex would help in a speedy recovery. It is also recommended that you make use of a condom while having sex for the first three months after the warts have cleared up. This is because of the possibility of HIV traces being present in the skin even after the warts have disappeared.
  • Smoking: Most of the above discussed treatments have proven to be more effective in non smokers than smokers. Quitting smoking may make the healing process faster.
  • Keep the area clean: Make sure to keep the treated skin clean all the time and protect it from external dirt or dust.
  • Do not scratch the treated area: Never do this as the skin may be very sensitive and can tear apart. Contact your doctor if you have a persistent itching sensation.
  • Wash your hands after touching the warts: Wash your hand thoroughly after touching your wart. There are chances of some traces of infection being present on the skin cell.
  • Apply cold compresses to relieve discomfort or you may take acetaminophen (tylenol) or ibuprofen (advil and motrin).

Whatever the Treatment May be, Here are a Few Important Pointers.

  • Consult your doctor before starting any kind of treatment.
  • Ask each and every minute detail regarding the treatment from your doctor, may it be cost or benefits.
  • Also, ask about the follow up instructions in advance as to what you can do in case of discomfort or pain.
  • You need to be patient as treatment takes time.
  • Inform the doctor if you are pregnant so that the treatment can be done in such a manner that it does not harm the baby.
  • Do not use over-the-counter treatments which are not specifically meant for genital warts as they may not be for sensitive genital skin.