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Genital Warts (Condylomata Acuminata) - a Sexually Transmitted Infection

Published on Jan 05, 2017 and last reviewed on Dec 15, 2021   -  4 min read

Abstract

Current evidence suggests that over 50% of sexually active adults (15 to 25 years of age) have been infected with one or more human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. The underlying HPV infection may increase the evidence and prevalence of genital warts. Read this article to know more.

Contents
Genital Warts (Condylomata Acuminata) - a Sexually Transmitted Infection

Introduction:

Condyloma, a Greek word with the meaning of round tumor, has been recognized as a distinct entity since ancient times. Mucosal HPV infections are regarded to be the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It can occur in the anogenital region, oral mucosa, or skin. HPV present in the birth canal can be transmitted to a newborn during vaginal delivery, and it may persist for years in a dormant state and become infectious intermittently. Most commonly, people of the young and sexually active age group are affected.

Which Causative Organism Is Responsible for HPV Infection?

The causative organism is the human papillomavirus. The most common subtypes are 6, 11, 16, and 18. Less common subtypes are 31, 33, 35, 39, and 51 to 59.

How Does the Infection Get Transmitted?

Genital HPV infectionsare transmitted chiefly through sexual contact such as genital to genital, oral to genital, or genital to anal, but digital and perinatal transmission can also occur. The incubation period is several weeks to months.

What Are the Risk Factors of Genital HPV Infection?

The risk of developing genital HPV infection increases with,

What Are the Clinical Features of HPV Infection?

The most common sites affected are the frenulum, coronal sulcus, the inner surface of the prepuce, urethral meatus, cervix, vagina, and vulva. It can also affect the anal region of homosexuals. It is usually asymptomatic, single or multiple, soft, pink or whitish, sessile tumor (immobile) with fine papillary projections. It may bleed on friction or slight trauma. These lesions may either subside, progress, or prevail in the same condition. There may be abnormal discharge, and pruritus may also be present. Some experience bleeding with sex and during pregnancy.

Two-third of the population having sex with sex partners having HPV-induced genital warts are known to acquire the infection within three months of exposure.

What Are the Clinical Variants of Genital Warts?

  1. Small papular.

  2. Cauliflower like floret.

  3. Sessile.

  4. Flat-topped papules or plaques.

  5. Giant condyloma (Buschke-Lowenstein tumor).

What Complications Does Condylomata Acuminata Cause?

What Investigations Help Diagnose HPV-Induced Genital Warts?

Clinical examination is sufficient to diagnose most of the external genital warts. Sometimes to visualize warts clearly, a specialized instrument called a colposcopy can also be used, which helps view warts in a magnified version. Laboratory examinations are also used in a few cases. They are as follows:

  1. Acetowhite test for subclinical genital HPV (5% acetic acid for 5 minutes).

  2. Pap smear.

  3. Skin biopsy for koilocytes, mature squamous cells with a large clear perinuclear zone, and smudged nuclei.

  4. Detection of HPV DNA.

  5. Serology test.

In people with HPV genital infection, additional tests to look for the presence of other sexually transmitted infections like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV/AIDS, etc., are also done.

What Other Lesions Imitate Condylomata Acuminata?

How Is Condylomata Acuminata Treated?

Counseling:

Clear information and counseling must be given to accomplish proper management. Female individuals, who have an HPV infection, should get counseling about regular participation in cervical cytology screening programs. He or she should be encouraged to use barrier protection with new sexual contacts until successful treatment has been completed.

Can Genital HPV infections Recur?

20 to 30% of the time, genital warts due to HPV infection can recur even after successful treatment. They also have the ability to become cancerous. Hence follow up with your treating doctor is necessary. Keep a close look on your affected regions and look for signs of bleeding, pigmentation, and ulceration, which indicate malignant transformation.

Conclusion:

If you are suspected or confirmed with HPV infection, inform your sexual partners regarding it and refrain from having sex until you successfully get treated. Otherwise, it unnecessarily gets transmitted to your partners. Condom usage can prevent the transmission of such sexually transmitted diseases; hence if you plan to have sex other than for getting pregnant, condoms are worth using.

Frequently Asked Questions


1.

How Long Do Genital Warts Last?

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections cause genital warts, and most of the HPV infections will go away on their own, from a few months to years. Even when genital warts disappear on their own without treatment, the virus will still be present. But, when left untreated, they grow large in big clusters.

2.

What Do Genital Warts Look Like?

Genital warts look like,
- Skin-colored whitish bumps.
- Little pieces of cauliflower.
- Can have just one wart or a bunch of them.
- It can be big or small.
They can be itchy, but mostly, they do not hurt and show up on the vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, or anus.

3.

Can Genital Warts Be Cured?

Genital warts can be cured and removed, but the virus, which is the causative factor for genital warts, cannot be cured. Prevention is better than cure, so prevent genital warts by using condoms and dental dams for sex.

4.

What Can Be Mistaken for Genital Warts?

Genital warts can be mistaken for,
- Pimples.
- Chickenpox.
- Molluscum contagiosum.
- Even skin cancer.
It can be a single wart or a cluster of warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection (STI).

5.

How to Detect Genital Warts?

Genital warts can be examined by,
- Biopsy - A sample of the wart is taken to detect genital warts.
- Blood sample - A blood sample is drawn to test for HIV and syphilis.
Depending on the results, the patient will be referred to a specialist for further treatment.

6.

How Long Can You Have Genital Warts Without Knowing?

Most people infected with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) do not show symptoms. But when they start showing symptoms, they are mild so that they do not know they are infected. It usually starts with the symptoms such as,
- Pain.
- Bleeding.
- Itching.
If the person experiences the symptoms, they will acquire the infection within two to three months, but if they do not show up the infection after having symptoms for 2 months to three years, then genital warts will appear after only active infection, but there is a possibility of spreading the virus even if warts do not appear.

7.

What Happens When the Genital Wart Is Untreated?

When genital warts are untreated, they can spread to other areas of the body and increase in size and number. It should be soon evaluated by the doctor as genital warts do not go away on their own.

8.

Why Am I Suddenly Getting Warts?

Warts occur when the virus comes in contact with the skin, and they develop on broken skin as the virus can enter into the top layer of cuts or scratched skin due to,
- Picked hangnails.
- Nicked by shaving.

9.

Are Warts a Sign of a Weak Immune System?

Increased risk of warts are a sign of weakened immune systems in some people. People who have weakened immune systems like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at increased risk of warts.

10.

How Do You Stop Warts From Spreading?

In order to prevent warts from spreading:
- Do not scratch warts.
- Keep warts dry.
- Avoid shaving on your warts.
- Wash hands regularly.
- Try to disinfect the wounds.
- Cover warts.
- Do not share towels with other people.
- Do not touch other people's warts.

11.

Which HPV Causes Condyloma?

Condyloma acuminata is the medical term for genital warts and is commonly associated with low-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) 6 and 11. They cause about 90% of genital warts, and they rarely develop into cancer. Warts show up after months of having sex with the infected partner.

12.

Is Condyloma Acuminata Precancerous?

Human Papilloma Virus and its isotypes cause condyloma acuminata. They usually do not cause cancer, are not precancerous and do not progress to form invasive carcinomas.

Last reviewed at:
15 Dec 2021  -  4 min read

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