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Genital and anal warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

They vary in size from tiny rough raised areas on the skin to large cauliflower-like growths, and appear on the penis, around or inside the vagina and anus, or on the mouth. Some people are carriers only, and do not develop symptoms (though they can spread the virus to others). HPV is not considered dangerous to men, but certain strains have been linked to cervical abnormalities in women.

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  • How you get it

    You get warts by direct contact with a wart on another person’s body. Warts take anywhere from three weeks to nine months to appear

  • Testing

    Warts are diagnosed by visual examination. If you have external anal warts, your doctor should check inside your anus, as well. You should take a blood test to rule out syphilis, since one symptom is wart-like growths in the anus or on the penis.

  • Treatment

    Warts are treated by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. They can also be treated with the chemicals podophyllin and bichloracetic acid. Treatment continues once a week, until the warts disappear. You must have follow-up examinations, since the warts may return. In some cases, warts keep returning for several years, even with treatment, until your immune system learns to fight the virus that causes them. Warts that don’t respond to treatment can be treated surgically in hospital.

  • Prevention

    Condoms will prevent transmission of warts as long as the wart is covered. If you have penile warts you should inform partners with whom you’ve had anal or vaginal sex.