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Genital warts are a highly contagious sexually transmitted disease. The virus that causes them is called human papillomavirus (HPV). Doctors diagnose more than a million new cases of genital warts every year, and there are more than a hundred strains of the virus. While there is no cure for HPV, there is a wide selection of treatments and home remedies for genital warts that can help ease their symptoms.
If you have genital warts, you should also get medical advice and treatment from your doctor. Even the best home remedies for genital warts won’t make them go away completely, and antiviral treatment can prevent you from spreading the disease to your sexual partners.
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Genital warts, also called venereal warts or condylomata acuminata, are one of the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases. There are about 120 strains of human papillomavirus, which causes genital warts. Some of these strains can lead to cervical or throat cancer, so if you have genital warts, you must get regular screenings from your health care provider.
Most commonly, genital warts present as a series of cauliflower-like bumps or a rash on a person’s genital area. These bumps can come and go with time, but the virus that causes them remains inside your body for life.
If you suspect you have genital warts, you should get rapid STD testing immediately. Because genital warts can look like many other sexually transmitted infections, including herpes and bacterial infections, you need an accurate diagnosis before treating them.
Those at increased risk of developing complications from human papillomavirus include:
You can get genital warts from any sexual contact, including oral and anal sex. A barrier method of STD prevention is one way to help prevent their spread. There is also a vaccine that can prevent many cancer-causing strains of HPV, so talk to your doctor to find out whether you are eligible for it.
Human papillomavirus is an extremely contagious disease that spreads not only through sexual contact but also through any form of skin-to-skin contact. If a person has a wart on their finger, that’s also a case of human papillomavirus, and the virus can spread to your genitals if the other person touches them.
There has been a lot of debate in the scientific community about the non-sexual spread of genital warts. However, the strains of HPV that cause genital warts tend to differ from those that cause warts elsewhere on the body. No matter what, the best way to prevent infection is to know your partner’s infection status and to use a barrier method of STD prevention.
If you have genital warts, you will usually encounter a rash-like series of raised bumps on the surface of your genital area. It may look like the florets of a cauliflower, and the area will generally feel rough or bumpy to the touch.
Other symptoms of genital warts may include:
Sometimes, the bumps are too small for people to see with the naked eye, and the itchiness and discharge are the only visible symptoms of genital warts. Because genital warts aren’t always apparent to the naked eye, we at Rapid STD Testing recommend that people get tested regularly, whether or not they have symptoms.
Genital warts aren’t only limited to the genitals, either. Because people can transmit them through oral sex, they can appear inside a person’s throat, tongue, lips, or elsewhere in the mouth. Genital warts do heal naturally, but the virus doesn’t go away.
Genital skin tags and genital warts are two different problems that can look very similar. Both are fleshy growths that usually crop up in the folds of your skin and genital tissues. Unlike genital warts, skin tags are entirely benign. If one is causing trouble, you can usually have a doctor remove it in a single visit. The doctor performs this procedure using a local anesthetic, and you can generally go back to your daily routine with no downtime.
Skin tags, also called soft tissue fibromas, can vary in size. Some of them can grow as large as the eraser on a pencil. They grow quickly and may change color over time, but they are soft and flexible. Genital skin tags are most common on the penis, but they can occasionally show up on vaginas as well.
There is no cure for the virus that causes genital warts. However, there are some other solutions for removing genital warts at home. These can reduce the itching and burning you experience, and some may even help reduce the appearance and duration of a breakout.
Treating genital warts at home shouldn’t be your only move. Getting medical advice and supervision from your doctor is also important to ensure you are doing everything right.
Being deficient in certain vitamins can hurt your body’s ability to fight infections like HPV. Although there isn’t much research about whether taking a daily multivitamin will impact an infection, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. Either way, consult with your doctor to ensure that whatever multivitamin you choose doesn’t conflict with your other medications.
Humans have been aware of tea tree oil’s antiseptic and antimicrobial properties for centuries. No scientific studies have directly named tea tree oil as a method of genital wart removal at home. However, some evidence shows that it effectively reduces the appearance and duration of warts on other parts of the body.
If you apply tea tree oil to genital warts, make sure to avoid the mucous membranes in areas such as vaginal tissue and the inside of the mouth. Always dilute tea tree oil with a carrier like olive oil. If you have sensitive skin, test a few drops on thick skin, like your upper arm, and wait 24 hours before proceeding.
There have been a few studies showing that witch hazel extract is an effective treatment for some common strains of human papillomavirus. It’s milder than tea tree oil, so people with sensitive skin may want to start with it.
Along with multivitamins, one of the best ways to stay healthy and keep your immune system in fighting shape is to eat a nutrient-rich diet. For most people, this means adding more vegetables to their meals.
Vegetables rich in the nutrient indole-3-carbinol can help your body fight off infections. These vegetables include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Green tea extract is another proven home remedy for genital warts. While you can get a prescription for ointments that contain it, you can also add one or two drops of green tea extract to coconut oil and apply it directly to your trouble areas.
Garlic is a popular home remedy for genital warts, and some small studies have demonstrated that it can be as effective as cryotherapy in their treatment. Although these studies only involved men, they found that applying a 10% garlic extract to their warts for two months had a positive effect.
If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you probably know how effective aloe vera gel is at relieving burns and itching. This alone makes it a popular remedy for itchy, dry warts. In addition, scientists have proven that aloe gel can help fight certain herpes virus variants.
This is one of the simplest, gentlest ways of treating genital warts at home. The gel is inexpensive and very easy to find in pharmacies and grocery stores.
Apple cider vinegar works a lot like salicylic acid, a popular over-the-counter wart remover. It gently peels away the surface of warts, reducing their appearance. You should never apply undiluted apple cider vinegar to any wart, though, and don’t use it on open wounds.
First, dilute two parts of apple cider vinegar with one part of water. Soak a cotton ball in this mixture and tape the cotton ball to the affected area for three to four hours.
While home remedies for genital warts are a convenient addition to medical treatment, you should always seek help from a doctor if you suspect you have any sexually transmitted infection. There are a lot of medical treatments available for genital warts, and some of the medications available may conflict with home remedies, so be sure to tell your doctor if you are trying any of them.
Some conventional medical treatments for genital warts include freezing them off using liquid nitrogen or destroying them with electricity. Some clinics use lasers for the same purpose. If you have large warts, a doctor may be able to cut them off with a scalpel. However, none of these treatments kills the underlying virus, so your genital warts could still return after months or years.
There is also a wide selection of topical treatments for genital warts. You apply these directly to problem areas. One of these treatments, sinecatechins ointment, contains green tea extract, one of the home remedies we mentioned earlier. Another, imiquimod, enhances the immune system to prevent the growth of the sores, while podofilox interferes with the wart cells’ ability to divide.
Doctors can also use trichloroacetic acid to dissolve the protein that forms genital warts. This process is similar to the apple cider vinegar method we described earlier, but only doctors can perform it.
Each of these treatments for genital warts comes with the risk of side effects, so don’t forget to ask your doctor what to look out for before you begin. The most common side effects include skin irritation and increased risk of fungal infections like candida. Most of the time, these clear up quickly after treatment is done, allowing you to go on about your routine with minimal interruption.
These medical treatments are some of the most effective ways to prevent genital warts from spreading on yourself, but they take time to work. In most cases, this can take anywhere from two to three months. In addition, none of these treatments will completely remove the virus from your body, so you should watch for new outbreaks and treat them promptly.
Genital warts aren’t just uncomfortable and unsightly. They can lead to long-term problems, and the virus lasts your entire life. Even after you treat an outbreak, the human papillomavirus is still inside your body, and it can come back even after many years of dormancy.
Some strains of HPV can cause cervical and throat cancer down the line. Because most of these strains don’t tend to cause large warts, you should get rapid STD testing for HPV so you know your level of risk. Even better, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against the cancer-causing virus strains. These vaccines come in a series of two or three shots, and the ideal time to get them is before having sex.
If you are pregnant and have HPV, you have additional concerns to keep in mind. Pregnancy hormones can cause genital warts to enlarge and spread within the vagina. If they remain during delivery, they can prevent your vaginal tissue from stretching as it should, causing cuts and bleeding. Finally, babies born to HPV-positive parents can develop warts in their throat. While this is an extremely rare phenomenon, you should carefully monitor your newborn’s breathing if you have genital warts.
Human papillomavirus is an incredibly common disease, and many people never show symptoms of it. This is why getting tested early and often is so critical. You should get tested for sexually transmitted infections with every new partner. Rapid STD Testing also recommends getting tested if you or your partner has cheated, if a condom breaks, or if you otherwise think you could have been exposed.
If you think you may have been exposed to genital warts, your first priority should be to get same-day STD testing at one of Rapid STD Testing’s many facilities. Our comprehensive 10-panel STD test screens for chlamydia, herpes, HIV, and syphilis, as well as other common STDs. You may not be able to cure genital warts, but the first step in managing them is to get them diagnosed properly to better manage your symptoms.
Read some of our other posts to learn about the differences between HPV vs. herpes or home remedies for chlamydia.