Anogenital Warts Guide

Anogenital warts is a very common sexually transmitted disease caused by certain strains of the Human Papilloma virus. The Human Papilloma virus (commonly referred to as HPV) has been noted to cause several different types of cancers as well as anogenital warts.

Despite the stigma often attached to anogenital warts, many cases are not as bad as may be expected. In fact, many people who contract the HPV virus, which can lead to anogenital warts, develop no symptoms whatsoever. The typical time it takes for the virus to develop is around three months, but it is not entirely uncommon for incubation periods to last for up to a full year. Because of this, as well as its highly contagious characteristics, the virus that causes anogenital warts is hard to control.

Some of the key symptoms of the virus include small lumps underneath the surface of the skin than can be quite rough to touch. Some people may only develop one or two of these lumps, whereas others have been noted to develop large clusters together, resulting in a cauliflower type appearance. Usually the lumps are pain free. However, in some people these symptoms can cause some discomfort, and sometimes bleed during sexual intercourse. It is recommended that you do not have sexual intercourse until after the infection has completely cleared up.

The treatment you will be prescribed will be dependent on your individual symptoms. You can only be successfully diagnosed by a medical professional, whether this is by your GP or at your local GUM clinic. One of the key reasons for this is connected to the successful treatment of the infection. Either one of two types of treatment will be required, topical treatments or physical ablation. Within topical treatments, creams and gels as well as acidic liquid administered to the affected areas. These treatments can take several weeks to be fully effective, so perseverance is key to complexly getting rid of genital warts. Physical ablation involves freezing, burning or cutting the warts from your body. Your medical professional will be able to successfully offer you the treatment you personally require.

Topical treatments

There are a number of topical treatments that can be given to treat anogenital warts and these all need to be prescribed by a doctor. It will depend on the hardness of the warts and the amount of warts that you have as to which will be the best treatment for you.


Imiquimod is a cream that you apply to the warts three times a week. Once you have applied it to the infected area, you need to leave it for approximately six to ten hours to allow it to have some effect. It is usually prescribed to individuals suffering from large individual warts and it is effective but it can take up to several weeks before the warts disappear. There are also a number of side effects such as flaking skin, burning in the area the cream is applied, headaches and hardening of the skin. These are rare side effects but if they do occur, contact your doctor for advice. Once you stop the treatment, the side effects should disappear within two weeks.


Podophyllotoxin is not a cream like Imiquimod but a liquid that is applied to the warts. It destroys the cells within the warts so that they disappear and you need to apply it directly to the warts themselves. The treatment must be carried out in a certain way so as to protect the skin from too much harm as it has a harmful effect on the skin. The first treatment usually involves applying the liquid twice a day each day for three days. You will then have a four-day break so that your skin does not become too irritated. You then continue in the same manner until the area is free of warts. This usually means you will need four or five cycles but you may need more. There are some side effects because you may have a reaction to the treatment or the skin may become irritated. Contact your doctor if you are worried about any side effects you are experiencing.

Trichloroacetic Acid

The final topical treatment is Trichloroacetic acid, which is also a liquid form of treatment. It is a lot stronger than podophyllotoxin and if it is not applied correctly, it can damage the skin around the warts and cause more damage than necessary. Therefore, this is a treatment that is carried out by a doctor or nurse once a week for several weeks until the warts disappear. There is some discomfort because the area can be irritated for a few minutes after application.

What are Anogenital Warts? ยป