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Medically reviewed by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH — By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst on June 5, 2019

Genital warts are bumps that develop on or around the genitals. They’re caused by certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). It affects 79 million Americans.

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Genital warts can be flat or raised, single or multiple, & flesh-colored or whitish. When several warts develop close together, they can take on a cauliflower-like appearance.

They most often develop externally on the:

vulva shaft or head of the penisscrotumgroinperineum (between the genitals and anus)anus

They can also sometimes develop internally in the:

vagina cervixanal canal
1. Bởi vì they hurt?

Genital warts are usually painless, but they can be uncomfortable & cause mild pain, itching, or bleeding.

They’re more likely lớn hurt or bleed if they become irritated due lớn friction. This could be from sexual activity, picking, or wearing tight clothing.

If you have genital warts inside your vagina, urethra, or anus, you may experience some burning or pain when urinating.


2. Are they the same thing as herpes?

No, they’re not the same, but these two conditions have some similarities. Both are common STIs that cause genital lesions, but herpes causes sores, not warts.

Genital warts are caused by HPV. Herpes, on the other hand, is caused by the herpes simplex virus, either HSV-1 or HSV-2.

Additional symptoms of herpes include:

flu-like symptomsswollen lymph nodesburning or tingling before sores appearpainful, fluid-filled blistersburning pain when urinating
3. How bởi vì you get genital warts?

You can get the virus that causes genital warts through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. Most people get it through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, và oral sex.

HPV và genital warts can be transmitted even if the person with the virus has no symptoms of an infection.


4. How soon bởi they appear?

Warts may take one lớn three months lớn appear once a person has been exposed khổng lồ the virus. They aren’t always visible to lớn the human eye because they’re too small or because they blend in with the skin.


5. How long vì they last?

Most genital warts disappear without treatment within 9 lớn 12 months.


6. Are they curable?

There’s no cure for the vi khuẩn that causes genital warts, but there are things you can vì chưng to manage an outbreak.

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You may not need treatment if your warts aren’t causing any symptoms. If they cause pain or itching, talk to lớn your healthcare provider about removal options.

Treatment options include:

chemicals that dissolve the warts that can be applied by a doctor or at homesurgery

Genital warts can come back, so you may need to lớn see your doctor for treatment again in the future.

Don’t Diy

Resist the temptation to remove warts yourself using over-the-counter wart remedies. These aren’t safe for use on the genital area.


7. Can you get them without having sex?

Most people get HPV or genital warts from having intercourse, but you can also get them from skin-to-skin liên hệ during non-penetrative sex or from sharing sex toys.

It’s also possible for someone to transmit the virus to lớn their baby during childbirth, but this is rare.


8. What should I vày if I think I have them?

If you think you have genital warts or you’ve been exposed lớn HPV, make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They can examine your skin more closely & make a diagnosis.

If your healthcare provider can’t see much, they might apply acetic acid lớn your skin, which causes warts lớn turn white so they’re easy to lớn see.

Some types of HPV are associated with cancer of the cervix, vulva, anus, và penis. The strains that cause warts aren’t the same ones that can cause cancer, but your healthcare provider may want lớn perform tests to kiểm tra for anything unusual, just lớn be safe.

For cisgender women & anyone else with a cervix, testing includes a Pap smear và an HPV test. There’s currently no HPV thử nghiệm for cisgender men và anyone else with a penis.

If you have genital warts, it’s a good idea to vị some additional STI testing to lớn rule out other infections. If you find out you have genital warts or other STIs, make sure to lớn tell your recent sexual partners.


The bottom line

Genital warts are a fairly common STI. If you think you may have them, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible for confirmation. You can prevent spreading the virus to lớn others by using barrier protection methods during any kind of sexual activity.


Last medically reviewed on June 5, 2019


How we reviewed this article:


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Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, và we update our articles when new information becomes available.


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Medically reviewed by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH — By Adrienne Santos-Longhurst on June 5, 2019

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