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Genital Warts: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Jun 28, 2023

What are Genital Warts?

Genital warts refer to the soft growth appearing on the genitals resulting in pain and discomfort. It leads to severe itchiness in the affected area. They are predominant Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). These mainly occur due to low-risk strains of the Human Papilloma Virus.

How do genital warts get transmitted?

The main cause of transmission of genital warts is sexual activity. Activities including anal, oral, and vaginal sex transfer genital warts causing viruses easily. However, it may not be visible for the initial weeks after infection.

Summary- Sexual intercourse transfers genital warts from one another.

What are the causes of Genital Warts (Human papillomavirus (HPV))?

The foremost reasons for genital warts include-

  • HPV is highly transferred through skin-to-skin contact.
  • Most sexually active lifestyle
  • Lesser strains of HPV lead to genital warts.

Summary- Transfer of HPV may occur in different ways and becomes the reason for genital warts.

What are the symptoms of Genital Warts?

The most common symptoms of genital warts involve-

  • Itching
  • Bleeding
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Burning

Summary- Symptoms of genital warts sometimes remain undetected for several months.

How long it takes for symptoms to appear?

Usually, the symptoms show up after a particular amount of time. Many patients cannot detect the symptoms for some weeks after the infection. The symptoms develop slowly and become grave if not detected early.

Summary- The appearance of genital warts symptoms possesses variable duration.

How genital warts are diagnosed?

Diagnosis of genital warts is done by following some specific procedures, such as-

  • A detailed physical examination
  • Lab tests
  • Questionnaire session
  • Paying attention to sexual history

Summary- Different procedures are followed for detailed analysis of genital warts symptoms.

Different types of HPV tests available

Different types of HPV tests are available out there, such as

  • Blood tests
  • Pelvic examinations
  • Acetowhite tests

Summary- Doctors advise some tests for the patient to rule out their exact conditions.

How can I prevent getting or spreading genital warts?

Genital warts can be prevented by following some distinct steps, including-

  • Vaccination
  • Using condoms
  • Avoiding multiple sexual partners
  • Allowing physical barriers during different types of intercourse
  • Improving immunity

Summary- Prevention is possible for genital warts if we follow the above-stated steps correctly.

Vaccines available for prevention

Vaccinations work efficiently in case of genital warts. Vaccines capable of preventing genital warts include-

  • Gardasil
  • Gardasil 9

Summary- These vaccines help to prevent genital warts efficaciously.

How do I know if I have a Genital Wart?

The development of Genital Warts is witnessed by the appearance of pinkish or skin-colored sores in the region of both male and female genital organs such as the penis, scrotum, vulva, vagina, and cervix. They occur as single or may be seen in clusters, varying in size and resembling cauliflowers in outer appearance. They give an itching sensation in a particular area.

Summary- Genital warts can easily be identified due to their cauliflower resembling appearance.

What do Genital Warts feel like to touch?

Genital Warts are contagious sexually transmitted diseases that may appear in the form of bumps varying in size up to 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter. Although they cause no pain usually, they can be soft or hard to be felt when touched. They can bleed too when scratched.

Summary- Genital warts feel like bumpy outgrowth.

What is the treatment?

Genital warts include several treatment procedures. Since genital warts are STIs and need to be treated completely. These procedures are-

  • Surgery- larger warts require surgical treatment to be treated. Doctors advise different procedures like electrocautery, laser treatment, cryotherapy, surgical excision, etc. Surgery treats warts faster but is quite painful compared to others.
  • Medications- some medications can be applied topically to treat warts. Some commonly prescribed medications include Veregan, Aldara, TCA, Condylox, Zyclara, etc. Medications are not painful but it takes more time to cure this disorder.

Summary- Genital warts involve several processes involving surgery and medications.

How to care for the treated area

The treated areas need to be kept tidy and clean. One should not touch it without cleaning the hands. The area should be kept dry and ointments should be applied on time.

Summary- Taking care of the treated areas is very important to speed up the recovery process.

When to seek medical attention

As soon as one experiences genital warts symptoms, he/she must report the symptoms to doctors. One must be careful during any type of sexual activity. If anyone encounters itching or swelling in the genital area then he/she needs to seek medical attention.

Summary- Early medical attention is needed in case of genital warts.

Are Genital Warts curable?

In most cases, Genital Warts do not show any kind of symptoms and get healed spontaneously without any need for a cure. But in some cases when they grow large in number, they do need adequate treatment under consultation with a doctor. Treatment is also important considering the fact that it develops more chances of transmission to any infected person.

Summary- Genital warts are considered curable but possess higher chances of reoccurrence.

How genital wart treatment is done?

How is the treatment done?

Genital warts can be treated by using several methods as

  • Surgery- minor surgery is required to remove warts after a certain period of time. There are different methods that can be used to remove them, like-
  1. Laser treatment
  2. Electrocautery- burning warts with laser currents
  3. Drug interferon- injection
  4. Excision- cutting of warts
  5. Cryosurgery- freezing warts

Medications- these are prescribed to support the treatment processes. Some common medications include-

  1. Podofyllin
  2. Imiquimod
  3. Trichloroacetic acid
  4. Podofilox

Some home remedies are also available out there but they only treat the disorder to a certain extent.

Summary- Different treatment procedures are advised by doctors to treat genital warts completely.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Genital warts are treated when they start causing you discomfort. When they become itchy, and painful, giving a burning sensation and their unsightly nature makes you freak out causing emotional distress, you must visit your physician for medication or surgery, whichever is applicable, as soon as possible. Pregnant women with genital warts are also required to consult their doctor for treatment.

Also, when you have sexual contact with a person infected with these warts are bound to develop them within about three weeks. Sexual contact without barrier protection, early-age sex, and multiple sex partners are also indirectly responsible for developing genital warts.

Summary- People experiencing genital warts symptoms must go for treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

If the genital warts are not very prominent and do not cause any discomfort to you, you need not take such heavy medications or surgical options. Maintaining proper hygiene, taking care about using barrier protection during sex, and avoiding sex with an infected partner will help you keep genital warts at bay.

Summary- People not suffering from genital warts need not be treated.

How long are Genital Warts contagious?

Genital Warts are contagious, sexually transmitted diseases. As the incubation period of HPV, causing warts may vary from months up to years, the chances of transmission of the viruses to any infected person remains high till this time period. Even if the symptoms appear and it gets treated, the chances of infection being contagious persist after the disappearance of warts.

Summary- Genital warts are considered highly contagious until it gets eradicated completely.

Can you scratch off Genital Warts?

Genital Warts are characterized by the appearance of flat, small, and rough bumps on the affected area of the skin which should not be touched or scratched. In case it gets scratched, it will lead to an increased chance of spread of the infection to other parts of the body which can be serious and discomforting. It may bleed upon getting scratched worsening the condition.

Summary- Genital warts must not be scratched in any condition.

How Long Do Genital Warts Last?

The incubation period of the human papillomavirus causing Genital Warts may vary from weeks and months to years. That means it takes that much time for the symptoms to appear. The symptoms which develop as outbreaks in the form of bumps or sores around the genitalia may continue up to two years or may take comparatively lesser time depending upon the severity of the infection.

Summary- Genital warts may persist for several months.

Are there any side effects of genital warts treatments?

Medication or surgery for the treatment of genital warts does bring on side effects with them, such as-

  • Applying Imiquimod (Aldara) causes skin redness along with blisters, body aches, fatigue, rashes, and cough.
  • Sinecatechins (Veregan) have side effects on the skin causing reddening, burning, pain, and itching.
  • Podophyllin and podofilox are not for pregnant women and can cause mild skin irritation, aches, and sores.
  • Also, if too much of the ointment is used or is not let air dried, it could spread to other areas and thereby cause side effects.
  • Side effects of surgery are mainly pain and swelling of the area.
  • Laser treatment causes scarring of the skin.
  • You can develop a fistula if you have anal warts which require surgery for treatment.

Summary- Genital warts treatment often accompanies some adverse effects with them as stated above.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Genital warts normally reappear after treatment, within the first three months. Once your warts are treated you need to develop a few good habits to avoid their return.

  • maintain proper hygiene by keeping the area clean and avoiding scratching it.
  • Put the cold pack to soothe the swollen genital area.
  • Take some over-the-counter medications to tackle pain.
  • wash your hands each time after touching your genital warts
  • avoid sexual activities till they are completely gone.
  • Women must regularly go for Pap tests whether the vaccine has been taken or not.

Summary- Following the post-treatment guideline helps to smoothen the recovery phase.

How long does it take to recover?

It takes several weeks to months or even years to completely recover and totally get rid of warts but they may also relapse which occurs more often. Some people can never get cleared of them in their life.

Summary- The recovery period of genital warts is usually variable for different patients.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The normal consultation fees for treatment of genital warts range between Rs.200 to Rs.2000. The treatment involves certain tests like PAP Test and HPV Test wherein PAP Test is charged somewhere around Rs. 200 to Rs. 1,500 and the HPV Test costs around Rs.2,000. 12.5 mg of Imiquimod cream cost around Rs. 268.

Summary- The approximate cost of treatment of genital warts is up to 2,000 rupees.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

No the results of genital warts treatment are not permanent and have more than a 50% chance of getting relapsed.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

If the symptoms of your genital warts are not very prominent and do not cause you much discomfort it is not necessary to get a treatment done. You can maintain simple hygiene, abstain from sexual contact, always use barrier protection like condoms while having sex, wash hands every time you touch warts, and avoid rubbing the affected area.

Summary- Certain alternatives are available out there to support the treatment procedure.

How long does apple cider vinegar take to remove Genital Warts?

Home remedies have always been proven as an effective way of treating infections naturally. Apple cider vinegar is one such remedy that may play a role in the treatment of Genital Warts though it is not proven. Being rich in acidic content, it may result in killing the causing agent i.e virus. It starts acting in 1 to 2 days and may take up to 2 weeks for the complete treatment of warts.

Summary- Apple cider vinegar may take 14-15 days to cure genital warts.


Genital warts are referred to as common sexually transmitted infections resulting from low-risk HPV infections. It is a curable disorder but must be detected early. People must be careful about their sexual lifestyle. Treatment is necessary to cure the disorder and prevent its reoccurrence.


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Written ByDr. C.S. Ramachandran DNB (General Surgery),FICS,MBBS,MS - General Surgery,FCCP (USA)General Surgery
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