About Genital Warts (HPV)

Certain types of HPV may manifest as Genital Warts, also known as condylomata accuminata. The virus causes cells in the skin to rapidly divide and pile up on each other. The resulting bumps are identified as warts. They tend to be flesh-colored or white.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that infects skin. It is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact. HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Unless you are in a lifelong mutually monogamous relationship, you will likely be exposed to HPV over your lifetime.

In women, the warts tend to be found on the skin of the external genitals and in the anal region. They may also be found in the vagina and on the cervix. In men, the warts occur most often on the head or shaft of the penis, or in the anal region.

Many people who become infected with HPV will not show any symptoms. These people are considered to have a subclinical infection. Most people who become infected with HPV will clear the infection on their own.

If you have genital warts, it is because you were exposed at some point in time to one of the types of HPV that causes warts. Direct skin-to-skin contact, generally during vaginal or anal intercourse is required for transmission. You cannot get genital warts from toilet seats, towels, etc.

Although the average time between infection and development of visible warts is three months, some people may have a subclinical infection for months to years before developing visible warts.

The main reasons for treating genital warts are cosmetic or for relief of symptoms. Treating the warts does not eliminate the virus from your body. Treatment does not prevent recurrences of the warts, nor does it decrease the infectiousness of the HPV. Your body’s own immune system will clear the virus from your system. This may take several years.

There is a HPV vaccine that protects you from four different types of HPV. Two of these types may cause genital warts, and the other two types may cause pre-cancerous or cancerous changes of the cervix.