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Genital Warts Signs & Symptoms

What are Genital Warts?

Genital warts are caused by the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) which is the most common skin virus. The warts may get better by themselves, but you can get treatment for them. Warts can reappear, even after treatment.

Many people have the virus and don’t know, because they never actually get any warts. The treatment is only to get rid of the warts, it’s down to your body and your immune system to fight the virus off over time – this can anywhere between a few months or a few years.

How does it spread?

You can catch genital warts from sex, or even just close skin to skin contact. The virus can be passed on even if there are no visible warts. When you catch the infection it can take weeks, or even months for symptoms to show (if any ever do).

Signs & symptoms

If you do have symptoms, they could be any of the following –

· Individual warts or a group of warts

· Flat, smooth, small bumps, or large cauliflower-like warts on or near the genitals

· The warts are usually painless but can be itchy

· Can appear places like the upper thighs and anus


If you have any of the above symptoms, you should go to a doctor to get a diagnosis.

Treatments include –

  • Creams or liquids that can be applied to the wart a few times a week for several weeks. In some cases, you may need to go to a sexual health clinic where a doctor or nurse will apply it for you.

  • Freezing of the warts. A doctor or nurse will freeze the wart, sometimes more than once.

  • Surgery is sometimes an option for some warts. A doctor or nurse will either cut, burn or use a laser to remove warts.

It may take weeks or months for some treatment to work and even then, the warts can still come back. For some people, the treatment will not work.

Never use over the counter wart cream for genital warts as this is not what it is intended for. Also, never have sex while undergoing wart treatment. You need to wait until the warts have gone – and tell any previous partners so they can get checked themselves because even if they have no warts, they might still have the virus.

Useful sites and further reading;

You can find out more about sexual health and STIs on our website

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