What are condyloma accuminata or genital warts ?
These represent the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). They are usually flesh-colored or dark papules on or near the genital region and/or buttock. They are caused by various strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Who gets genital warts ?
Usually sexually active adults get these.
How do I know if I have it ?
They may come about as new lesions shortly after having a new sexual partner, but they may take months to develop. They are usually flesh-colored or darker papules in the genital or buttock region. They are generally not painful, but may get irritated and itchy at times. They are best diagnosed by a health professional, such as your dermatologist.
How can I treat them ?
To treat these, it is important to see a health professional, such as your dermatologist. The first line treatment is generally liquid nitrogen therapy at regular visits. In addition to this or as an alternative, a prescription cream may be given to hasten resolution. They generally respond to therapy, but then can recur later on. If this happens, they can get retreated or more aggressive techniques of local destruction/removal can be tried.Once diagnosed, it is important to get other STI screening (e.g. HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and syphilis). In addition, it is important to refrain from any sexual activity where there is skin to skin contact with the affected area until after several months of the area being clear of any warts. Also, it is important to have a conversation with your sexual partner/s about this and insure that they are screened for warts, especially since some strains of HPV are associated with cancer, including cervical, anal and penile cancers.
How can I prevent it ?
To prevent genital warts, it is important to use protection, such as condoms. Even with the use of condoms, some areas remain exposed and so are at risk of getting infection. Abstinence and reducing the number of total partners can also be helpful. Finally, the HPV vaccine is an excellent way to gain some protection against the most common strains of genital warts and those important for the development of cervical cancer. Anyone can get this vaccine, as long they do not have any contraindications to the vaccine. It works best early in life, prior to any sexual activity, and is usually covered by insurance from the ages of 9 to 26.
When should I see a dermatologist about it ?
You should see a dermatologist for your genital warts once you notice them, to confirm the diagnosis, get appropriate screening, and start treatment