We’ve had hundreds of comments on the Embarrassing Bodies website about genital warts. One of the main ones seems to be can you treat them yourself or do you have to go and see a doctor? I think the reason being that you’re embarrassed to see your doctor. The first thing to say to you is I really wouldn’t advise it. Do go and see your GP or your local sexual health clinic and get a proper diagnosis. The reason being they may not be genital warts, they may be something else and also you may have other infections along with them and it is important to get tested for these too.
Lots of you are asking what warts are, what causes them? Well, warts are caused by the Human Papilloma virus, it’s a virus of which there are 100’s of different types. Some cause hand and facial warts, other strains cause genital warts and some strains can cause changes to the cervix in women which can lead to cervical cancer. Genital warts, generally, are caused by skin to skin contact. Not necessarily just through sex but through close contact.
One of you has asked whether if you have a wart on your finger and you masturbate you could give yourself genital warts. Well, the warts strain that causes finger warts is very unlikely to also cause genital warts so the quick answer to your question is no.
A lot of you are asking how easy is the wart virus is to catch. Well, the answer is pretty easy. Warts themselves will shed the virus and you can pick it up that way, through skin to skin contact, but you should also know that people who don’t actually have warts but are infected with the virus can also pass it on. Close contact is the way usually that this happens, condoms you should use to try and prevent this.
One of you has written in saying that you’re confused because you’ve read that warts aren’t normally painful but yours are. It’s firstly important to say do go and get them properly diagnosed by your doctor, but the truth is warts can be extremely painful, they can be very itchy and if you fiddle with them or pick them they can bleed. All of those symptoms are quite normal for genital warts.
Somebody’s asked a very good question here, which is what happens to the wart virus after you’ve got rid of the warts. Well, in some cases your body will clear the virus completely from its system. In others the virus may persist and give you a re-occurrence of warts. Generally speaking, I think it’s safe to say, if you haven’t had a re-occurrence of warts and you haven’t had an outbreak in some time, then you’ve almost certainly cleared the virus from out of your body and you shouldn’t be infectious any longer.
Loads of you are asking here on the Embarrassing Bodies website what the best treatment for warts is. Well, the truth is there isn’t any one best treatment, there is a whole variety. Creams work by irritating the skin on the wart or by killing the virus. You can freeze them; burn them off or even laser will cut them off. They will all depend on the extent of your warts, how long you’ve had them for, how they’ve responded to other treatments and how large they are. So the important thing to remember it that most treatments won’t work the first time you use them, you’ll probably have to repeat the procedure again and again and again. Do be persistent and eventually you will get rid of them.
Doctor Responses: Genital Warts
Common, curable but usually avoidable, genital warts have been a constant source of discussion on the Embarrassing Bodies website. Dr Christian has taken your most commonly asked questions that you’ve posted on the site, and answered them with his usual frankness and expertise.
Most of the questions were posted on our genital warts condition guide.
Comments and Questions
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