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Genital Warts

Close up of a genital wart

Genital warts are raised bumpy clumps that grow in the genital region. The clumps resemble a cauliflower. The virus that causes the warts may be carried by people who do not have visible signs of warts themselves.

Symptoms

Not everyone who has the virus that causes genital warts has signs or symptoms. Sometimes the virus can be detected with tests. Some people may have painless growths that are on or around the sex organs or the anus. Warts may vary in size and be flat or bumpy. They may be difficult to find. A vinegar wash can make them easier to see. Vinegar turns the tops of the warts white in about two minutes. The warts are soft to the touch and are usually not painful. They may itch occasionally. Warts may be located on the tip or shaft of the penis in males, in the anal area of both sexes and in the vagina, on the vulva, cervix and urethra of females. There may be increased vaginal discharge or abnormal vaginal bleeding after intercourse.

Causes

Genital warts are caused by human papillomaviruses (HPV 6 and HPV 11). These viruses pass from person to person through skin to skin contact during sexual activity.

Cautions

Warts located on the cervix may cause problems with Pap smears and they may create changes that have been previously linked to cancer. Anyone who thinks they have genital warts should contact their medical doctor for more information. A person can be diagnosed with genital warts when instead they may have Fordyce spots, lymphoceles, Tyson's glands or pearly penile papules.

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