Anal Warts

What are anal warts?

Anal warts, also known as condyloma acuminata or venereal warts are a relatively common and bothersome condition that affects the area around the anus. They may also affect the moist tissues of the genital area. They may look like small, flesh-colored bumps or have a cauliflower-like appearance, perhaps as small as the head of a pin, or may multiply into large clusters. Usually, they do not cause any type of pain or discomfort to afflicted individuals. As a result of this, patients may be unaware that the warts are present.

Where do these warts come from?

They are thought to be caused by the human papilloma virus –HPV- which infects the top layers of your skin. The virus is highly contagious and spreads through sexual contact with an infected person.

Do these warts always need to be removed?

Yes. It is critical because the virus may continue to be present and cause new anal warts to form. There is a possibility of serious problems if the warts are left untreated and can become cancerous.

What treatments are available?

There are several ways anal warts can be treated, depending on the location, number, and size of the warts. If the warts are small, they can be treated with solutions (podophyllin or bichloracetic acid) which are applied directly to the warts intended to cause exfoliation of the warts. This method usually requires several applications at various intervals over several weeks to ensure removal.

Another form of treatment is cauterization. The area is numbed with local anesthesia before the warts are burned off. If there are numerous warts, the doctor may choose to remove them surgically.

Warts that are located inside the anal canal are usually not suitable for treatment with medications and in the majority of cases need to be treated with cauterization or are surgically removed. Surgery requires anesthesia, but patients are released the same day as outpatients.

Will a single treatment cure the problem?

In half of all patients with warts, a single treatment will completely cure the problem. Close follow-up is critical because the virus may continue to be present and cause new warts to form. New or recurrent warts are treated similarly.

How long is treatment usually continued?

Follow up visits are necessary even after there are no visible warts. Visits may be necessary for up to six months to make certain the virus is not living in the cells of skin.

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