Genital warts are a type of sexually transmitted disease caused by certain strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV virus is spread through sexual contact with an infected individual. HPV is actually a family of over 150 different strains of viruses, but the majority of genital warts are caused by two strains of the virus (type 6 and 11). Genital warts are spread through skin-to-skin contact, thus condoms alone will not prevent its transmission, making it a difficult STD to prevent. After exposure through sexual contact, symptoms can take up to one year to develop, which means that an infected individual can continue to spread the virus before they realize they have it. Additionally, it is estimated that a low percentage of the population actually develops symptoms of genital warts, even if they are carrying the HPV virus in their bodies. This asymptomatic presence further contributes to the spread of the virus. These factors contribute to the high prevalence of the HPV virus among the human population (doctors estimate that 25 to 40% of the population carry some strain of HPV).
Although genital warts and their prevalence in our population may seem frightening, they are rarely painful or result in severe medical complications. While a very small percentage of people may experience difficulty in urinating or bleeding during intercourse, most people notice only a change in their skin’s topography. Treatment, however, is very important to prevent further spread and to remove the virus from your skin. In New York, Dr. Gary Goldenberg offers several treatment options to his patients. Treatment for genital warts includes removal by electrocautery or surgical excision. Cryosurgery, the most commonly used treatment option, essentially freezes the wart so it will die and fall from the skin. Dr. Goldenberg may use a variety of other pharmaceuticals or chemicals to treat and/or remove the warts. The may include Imiquimod, Veregen, Podophyllin and podofilox (Condylox) or Trichloroacetic acid (TCA). With adequate medical intervention, genital warts can be successfully treated and the patient’s skin will return to its normal appearance and texture.