How to Get Rid of Genital Warts
Finding that you have an outbreak of genital warts can be scary, but they can typically be treated. You’ll need to have a doctor examine genital warts and recommend the best treatment option. They’ll either prescribe a medicated ointment or gel or perform an in-office procedure to remove the warts. Most cases of genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and getting rid of warts doesn’t cure the virus. Inform any sexual partners about the diagnosis, practice safe sex for the rest of your sexual life, and abstain from sex while treating genital warts or during any future outbreaks.
Applying Medicated Ointment
Get a prescription medication from your doctor.Don’t use over the counter medications intended for warts in other locations. Have your doctor or dermatologist examine the affected area. For external warts, they’ll likely prescribe a medicated ointment.
- External warts affect the skin’s surface. Your doctor will recommend cryotherapy — a procedure in which the warts are frozen off using liquid nitrogen — or another method if warts affect areas that aren’t suitable for ointment, such as mucous membranes, the urethra, or inside of the vagina.
- Additionally, surgical removal might be your best option if large areas of skin are affected or if you have some medical conditions, such as an immune disorder.
Have your doctor show you how to properly apply medication.There are a few kinds of ointment available, and each has a different application method. Ask your doctor to demonstrate proper application techniques. Make sure you clearly understand the instructions before leaving the office.
- It's important that your doctor shows you exactly how to apply medication. Improper application can worsen side effects, such as irritated skin, or render the treatment ineffective.
- The three types of medicated ointments or gels are imiquimod, podofilox, and sinecatechins. Follow the specific instructions for the medication your doctor prescribes. Ask your doctor how long you'll need to apply the ointments for them to be effective.
Wash your hands before and after applying ointment.Wash up with soap and hot water for 20 seconds, then dry your hands thoroughly. Make sure they’re completely dry before you handle the ointment or gel. Be sure to wash your hands again after applying medication.
- Medications for genital warts can irritate skin, so it’s important to make sure you wash away any excess from your hands. Furthermore, touching other surfaces after treating warts could spread germs.
Wash and dry the area to be treated before applying medication.Take a shower or just the wash the affected area. Clean it with soap and hot water, then dry the area thoroughly. The area needs to be completely dry before you apply medication.
Apply imiquimod at bedtime, then wash the area after 6 to 10 hours.If you’re prescribed imiquimod, use your finger to apply a thin coating to the wart or warts. Wash the area with soap and warm water 6 to 10 hours after applying the ointment. The number of times you’ll apply imiquimod depends on its strength, so ask your doctor how often you should use it.
- Apply a higher strength ointment before bed 3 times per week.
- Apply a lower strength dose every night before bed.
- You’ll need to wash the area 6 to 10 hours after application regardless of the dosage strength.
Apply podofilox twice daily for 3 days if your doctor prescribed it.Podofilox is available as a solution, which you apply with a cotton swab, and a gel, which you apply with your finger. Apply just enough medication to lightly coat each wart twice a day 3 days in a row. After 3 days of using podofilox, don’t apply any medication for 4 days, then repeat the 3 application day cycle.
- Complete up to 4 cycles of 3 days of application and 4 days of no application.
- Ask your doctor if you should wash the treated area after several hours.
- Remember that your doctor will only prescribe one type of topical medication. Follow the instructions to apply podofilox only if your doctor prescribed it.
Apply sinecatechins 3 times a day if your doctor prescribed it.Use your finger to lightly coat each wart with sinecatechins. Use it 3 times a day for up to 16 weeks, or according to your doctor's instructions. Don't wash the area after applying sinecatechins.
- Keep in mind you'll only apply one type of medicated ointment. If your doctor prescribed sinecatechins, you won't need to use podofilox or imiquimod.
- Your doctor may prescribe you one treatment and then have you switch to a different treatment later on.
Cover the area only with breathable cotton.Wear loose, breathable cotton underwear after applying an ointment or gel. It’s not necessary to bandage the area, but it might be more comfortable to do so if the spot is prone to rubbing against surrounding skin or your underwear. If you want to cover it, use cotton gauze only, and don’t use a waterproof bandage.
- If you use a dressing, change it at least twice a day or after bathing.
- You can also wear a sanitary napkin or panty liner and change it out throughout the day.
Talk to your doctor if you experience side effects.Common side effects of any medicated ointments prescribed for genital warts include redness, burning, and pain on the application side. If any of these are severe, ask your doctor if you should use a different medication or one at a lower concentration.
Having Warts Chemically or Surgically Removed
Have urethral or cervical warts surgically removed during your visit.If warts affect a spot that’s not suitable for medicated ointment, or if the area is too widespread for ointments or gels, your doctor will recommend chemical or surgical removal.Options include cryotherapy, — when the warts are removed by freezing — laser removal, and surgical removal by incision.
- Your doctor will most likely administer a local anesthetic, so you probably won't feel anything at all during the procedure. You might experience some minor pain and swelling after, but it will go away in a few days. You may feel discomfort with laser removal, but not pain.
- If you saw a specialist, such as a dermatologist, urologist, or gynecologist, they'll likely remove the warts during your initial visit.
- If you saw your primary doctor, they might not have experience performing a procedure or the right equipment. If necessary, they'll refer you to a specialist.
- You can also visit a local STD clinic to have your genital warts removed.
Wash the surgical site twice daily and dress it with a bandage.After having your procedure, follow your doctor’s care instructions. They’ll likely advise you to wash the area with soap and warm water 2 times per day. After washing the area, dress it with a clean, dry bandage.
- Remember to wash your hands before and after caring for and dressing the affected area.
Avoid scratching or rubbing any blisters that develop.After cryotherapy, it’s common for blisters to form over the treated site. It’s important to leave them alone, so don’t scratch or try to pop them. They’ll go away on their own after several days.
- In rare cases, blisters or the incision site can become infected. Call your doctor if redness or swelling worsen after 24 to 48 hours, or if you notice pus or discharge.
Discuss interferon therapy if other methods are unsuccessful.If all other methods are unsuccessful, some doctors recommend injecting interferon, or an antiviral medication, into the affected area. Side effects include flu-like symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, chills, and pain at the injection site.
- Depending on the type of injection, you’ll have to see your doctor for treatments 2 to 3 times a week for 3 to 8 weeks.
Don't feel ashamed or think you did something wrong.HPV is incredibly common, so don't be hard on yourself. In the United States, about 80 percent of sexually active people will contract HPV at some time in their lives. Most people don't develop any symptoms, and it often goes away on its own.
- Diagnosing HPV in males is more difficult because they often don't show any symptoms. When you're considering a new sexual partner, make sure you both get tested at an STD clinic.
- Scientists don't completely understand how the virus goes dormant, but in most cases, a healthy immune system can suppress HPV within 1 to 2 years.
Inform any sexual partners if you have genital warts.If you’re diagnosed with HPV, you should tell your past or current sexual partners. There’s no way to tell when you might have contracted HPV; warts can develop weeks, months, or years after the initial exposure. Treating an outbreak will not cure HPV, so you should inform future partners as well.
Avoid sexual contact during an outbreak or when treating warts.It's easier to spread the virus that causes genital warts during an outbreak. Additionally, the treated area will be irritated, so you'll need to avoid sexual contact. Ask your doctor how long you should wait before having intercourse after treatment.
- The length of time you should avoid intercourse depends on the type of treatment you receive.
- Treating warts reduces, but doesn’t completely eliminate, the risk of spreading HPV.
Wear a condom during sex even when no warts are present.Using condoms will help reduce the risk of spreading HPV. However, even if you use a condom, there’s still a risk of spreading the virus through skin contact. Areas of the skin that aren’t covered by a condom can be affected by genital warts and spread the HPV virus.
See your doctor if you have another outbreak.After initially treating genital warts, it’s common to experience another outbreak within 3 months. If necessary, schedule a follow up appointment with your doctor for a second round of treatment.
QuestionHow do I remove internal genital warts from inside the vagina?
Registered NurseRegistered NurseExpert AnswerThis is not something you can do yourself. It needs to be done by a doctor or gynecologist. It will need to be done using a spectrum that goes into the vagina.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do if I've had genital warts for over 20 years and am too ashamed to tell anybody?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt's nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about. 1 in 3 people have HPV, or genital warts. Go see your doctor. If you simply can't handle the conversation, you can try one of the the many different over-the-counter wart removal creams from your local pharmacy. Know that your warts are nobody's business, so you do not have to tell anyone, except for any sexual partners. Be honest and respectful of their right to know, and their reaction.Thanks!
QuestionWhat kind of doctor do I need to see to deal with genital warts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerA gynaecologist if you're a woman, or a urologist if you're a man. You can also see a doctor who specialises in sexually related diseases.Thanks!
QuestionIs there an over the counter medication for genital warts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes! I used Compound W. from Walgreens. It took a couple of weeks before I noticed results (most removal creams take a few weeks to work). Note: This is my second treatment. First one was 10 plus years ago. They returned.Thanks!
QuestionCould I have caught genital warts or HIV from having sex without protection years ago?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. That's how these viruses are contracted. Genital warts, HIV, HPV and other STIs are transferred from one person to another through unprotected sex, but symptoms can sometimes take months to appear. See your doctor if you have any concerns.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I treat genital warts on the penis?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPodofilox is the best option in case you have them on the skin & not head of the penis.Thanks!
QuestionWill genital warts go away on their own?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is possible with a good lifestyle, extreme hygiene, and let's face it, luck. You shouln't wait for it to go away on it's own. The treatment is not painful and really easy.Thanks!
QuestionIf I am a virgin and have had no sexual contact, how did I get genital warts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerOral sex is another way the virus is spread. It's extremely uncommon for genital warts to be spread with no sexual contact whatsoever. In any case, you should see a gynecologist. Perhaps they will able to figure it out, and they will certainly be able to treat it.Thanks!
QuestionIf I am pregnant, how can I remove genital warts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThey usually go away on their own during pregnancy but may return after the child's birth.Thanks!
QuestionIf I've never had sex, can I still get genital warts?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, you can get genital warts from skin contact with someone who is infected but may not necessarily show any signs of genital warts. You can also get them from dirty clothes and towels, but the probability is very low.Thanks!
If I have large warts around my vagina and i am pregnant, is it safe to have a vaginal birth?
I feel a minor bump on my vagina. Is it a wart or do I have an infection?
I am 10 years old and I noticed a lump in my vagina. Upon sticking my finger up it, I saw more, along with some white sticky stuff. Can you tell me what I can do?
What can I do to stop genital warts from spreading?
Can using a caustic pencil help in removing genital warts?
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