HPV - Vaginal Warts & Their Treatment

HPV, STDs and Genital Warts

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is probably one of the most common STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) in the world today. It is contracted from one of more than 100 related HPVs and will infect more than 6 million people this year alone. HPV infection has the potential to cause numerous medical problems and each different type of HPV can cause an abnormal growth on a particular part of the body.

Genital warts, which are sometimes called condylomata acuminate, or venereal warts, are the most common and easily recognized sign of HPV infection, although many people have the infection without the warts. Genital warts and other lesions on or near the genital region or anus, common warts on the hands, plantar warts on the feet and warts or lesions around the mouth and upper respiratory system are also commonly associated with HPV. HPV types 6 and 11 are most associated with conjunctival, nasal, oral and laryngeal warts which are, for the most part asymptomatic, but at times can be very painful.

Primary Treatments

Primarily, treatment focuses on the removal of warts or lesions that cause embarrassment or pain and the removal of lesions which can lead to cancer. Diagnosis of HPV warts or lesions is based mostly upon a visual inspection by a medical professional. If the visual inspection does not seem adequate, it is possible the doctor may put a vinegar solution on the warts which will, if they are HPV, turn the area white. This type of testing may help in identifying hard to see flat lesions. There are also DNA tests which are available in specific cases.

There is no cure for HPV infections. For the most part, the body handles the situation through the immune system and often the warts go away on their own - although the virus does remain in the body. For the cases where the warts remain, there is a variety of treatments available, either applied at home or by the doctor. They reduce the concentration of HPV, but they don't eliminate the virus. It is still possible to infect someone with HPV after the warts or lesions are gone.

Topical Treatments

Genital warts can be treated with Imiquimod (Aldara), a prescription cream medication which may enhance the immune system to enable it to fight HPV. Podofilox (Condylox), also a cream, may destroy genital wart tissue. Trichloroacetic acid is a chemical treatment which burns off genital warts. Cryotherapy is the freezing of the warts with liquid nitrogen and electrocautery uses electrical current to burn off the warts. Surgery and laser surgery are other options for removal of genital warts.