In The Know Zone



Treating genital warts can be a difficult task. The warts can be removed, but the viral infection itself cannot be cured. The virus goes on living inside your skin. This is why the warts often return after they have been removed, and you may need to have them removed again.

So the purpose or goal of treatment is to remove the visible wart. Removing genital warts might reduce the risk of passing it to others, but it is not known if it eliminates the risk of spreading the disease completely. Removing a genital wart does not mean that the wart will not return. Since the virus will most likely remain in the body, the wart might probably come back.

Do not attempt or try to remove genital warts yourself. For example, chemicals you can buy at the store to remove warts from your hands should not be used. They can make your genital skin very sore. Only a health care practitioner, like a doctor or nurse should remove a genital wart.

How are genital warts removed?
One way to remove the warts is to freeze them. This is called cryotherapy. The warts can also be taken off with a laser. Special chemicals can be used to remove the warts. These chemicals dissolve warts in the genital area. They may have to be applied to the area a number of times over a period of several weeks before the treatment is complete.

The most common methods of treatment are explained below:

  • Cryotherapy - freezing the warts with liquid nitrogen. Used for external warts and those found on the cervix. This form of treatment is not used for vaginal, anal or rectal warts, where tissue is more sensitive.
  • Topical treatments - chemicals are used, sometimes in combination with liquid nitrogen, on the warts. They cannot be applied to areas around the warts because they can be too harsh for normal skin or tissue.
  • Electro surgery -an electrified (charged with electricity) blade or wire is used to cut the wart. The area is numbed with anesthesia. It is used to remove oral, external genital, or anal warts.
  • Surgery - performed or done when there are many warts in an area. The entire area is removed through surgery. Usually done in genital or anal areas.
  • Laser surgery - performed or done also when are many warts in the genital or anal areas.
  • Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP) - a sharp instrument shaped like a loop is passed underneath the wart and the wart is cut out of the skin.
  • Imiquimod - topical cream that stimulates or activates the body's own immune system. Is the least painful treatment for genital warts.

Remember, go to a doctor or nurse for treatment. Do not try to remove the genital warts yourself.

In The Know: STI Pamphlet/ DVD Package
In the Know: STI Pamphlet Package