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NHS Choices Condition

Content supplied by NHS Choices

You will only be offered treatment if you have visible warts. The treatment will depend on what the warts look like, how many you have and where they are. The aim of treatment is to remove visible warts and reduce the amount of virus, as this helps the body’s immune system to fight the virus. How effective the treatment is varies and depends on the size and type of warts, the treatment that is used and how good your immune system is at fighting the virus.

For some people treatment is not recommended, or they choose not to have any. However, for most people, having treatment is likely to make the warts go away more quickly. As genital warts are caused by a virus and not bacteria, antibiotics will not get rid of warts.

Visible warts can be removed by:

  • Putting cream or a liquid on to the warts (usually for a few days each week). Depending on which treatment is used, this is done at home or in the clinic. You may have to do this treatment over a number of weeks.
  • Freezing (cryotherapy).
  • Heat (electrocautery), using local anaesthetic.
  • Surgery, using local anaesthetic.
  • Laser treatment, using local anaesthetic.

Sometimes more than one treatment is used at the same time. These treatments may be uncomfortable, but they are not usually painful. Treatments can cause irritation and soreness for a couple of days, so it may be recommended that you use some pain relief.

If you do feel sore, bathing in warm, salted water can help. Add a handful of salt to a shallow bath (enough to fit in your palm). Warts like moisture, so keep the skin clean and dry as much as possible, and dry yourself carefully after a bath. Avoid perfumed soap, bath oils, bubble baths, creams and lotions until treatment is completed, as these may irritate the skin. Wart treatments sold at the pharmacy are not suitable for genital warts.

If left untreated, genital warts may disappear, stay the same, or grow larger in size or number, although over time most warts will eventually go away without treatment. It's not usually harmful to your health if the warts are not treated but you may find them uncomfortable and may not like the way they look. Treating the warts may reduce the risk of you passing them on to someone else.

view information about Genital Warts on www.nhs.co.uk »

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