What are Anal Warts?
Anal warts are one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the United States. Although anal warts affect both genders, more women than men are diagnosed with anal warts.
What are Anal warts?
Symptoms of Anal Warts
Anal warts are a commonly transmitted sexual infection among young adults. It is a painless condition and most are unaware of the diagnosis as there are no symptoms. Some persons may complain of anal itching. Tiny spots or growths can be seen and also can be felt with fingers. When they become large, you may feel a lump or mass in the anal area. You may also notice bleeding or increased mucus discharge.
Symptoms of Anal warts
Causes of Anal warts
Risk Factors of Anal Warts
- Multiple sexual partners
- Anal receptive intercourse
- Not using barrier contraceptives, such as condoms
Prevention of Anal Warts
Human papillomavirus vaccine is available that prevents the HPV infection and formation of anal warts. Other preventive measures include:
- Using condoms
- Limiting sexual contact to a single partner
- Sexual abstinence
Complications of Anal Warts
Anal warts are not life-threatening. If untreated, anal warts increase in size and can cause bleeding and discomfort. The risk of anal cancer also increases slightly with some HPV subtypes.
Diagnosis of Anal Warts
Your doctor will first take a detailed history and perform the relevant physical examination. A detailed history regarding the sexual practices, anal receptive intercourse, and previous history of sexual transmitted diseases will be taken. Your doctor will look into your anal area and most warts are easily diagnosed by looking at them. Your doctor may also perform a digital rectal examination (DRE). It is a simple bedside procedure in which your doctor will insert a gloved finger into your anus to look for any abnormality.
Treatment of Anal Warts
Untreated anal warts may grow and increase in size. It is, therefore, better to treat them and remove them. The treatment will depend on the size, number, and location of warts. For small warts, medical treatment is tried first. Treatment options are:
- Topical medicines – putting cream or a liquid on to the warts (trichlorocetic acid, podophyllin, imiquimod).
- Freezing (cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen).
- Heat (electrocautery) using local anesthetic.
- Laser treatmen, using local anesthetic.
- Surgical Management of Anal warts
Your doctor will explain the procedure. It is usually performed under local anesthesia but general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia may be given if warts are extensive. During the procedure, your doctor will use a special tool to remove the warts.
Your doctor will remove all the anal warts but the anal warts can recur, even without sexual intercourse. HPV can hide in tissues for many months and can again cause new anal warts to grow. In this instance, a repeat treatment or surgery will be needed.