What Does an Anal Wart Look Like?

Anal warts are a result of a common infection called human papilloma virus (HPV). They are usually harmless and do not cause pain.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that spreads through skin-to-skin contact. In men, this can include anal intercourse and direct contact with the scrotum, penis, or groin area.

What is an anal wart?

Anal warts are fleshy growths that affect the area around and inside the anus. They may also appear in other parts of the skin in the genital region. They usually start as small blemishes, about the size of the head of a pin or smaller, and grow to form cauliflower-like clusters. They are typically pink, yellow or light brown and may blend in with the surrounding skin color. They don’t cause pain and often go unnoticed.

They are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), and the most common HPV strains that cause them are types 6, 11, and 18. There is an HPV vaccine that can be given to adolescents to help prevent infection from HPV. However, it’s possible to get anal warts from other strains of HPV, and they don’t always lead to cancer.

There are several ways to treat anal warts, depending on where they are located and how many there are. If they are outside of the anal canal, they can be treated with solutions such as podophyllin or bichloroacetic acid that are applied directly to the warts. This may require several treatments over a period of weeks. It is also possible for the warts to be removed surgically using cautery or laser surgery.

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In half of all cases, a single treatment will not completely cure anal warts. Close follow-up is needed to catch any warts that reappear so they can be treated and prevented from spreading to other areas.

What are the symptoms of anal warts?

Anal warts, also called condyloma acuminata, are a type of genital wart caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease (STD). They can grow inside and around the anus, or anywhere in the genital area. Anal warts can be tiny or very large and come in different colors, shapes and sizes. Most of the time, anal warts aren’t painful. But they can itch or bleed and may spread to other areas of the anus or genitals over time.

Anal warts can be diagnosed with a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor might apply acetic acid to the warts so they turn white and become more visible. Then your doctor will do a pelvic exam or a Pap smear for women, depending on the situation.

Depending on the type of HPV strain that’s causing anal warts, they can lead to cancer in the cervix and the anus. But having anal warts doesn’t mean you’ll develop anal cancer. It’s important to see your doctor, especially if anal warts keep coming back after treatment.

Even after the anal warts are treated, the virus can still be present in your body and cause new warts to form. That’s why it’s important to keep up with your regular visits to your colorectal surgeon so that any returning anal warts can be quickly and easily treated again.

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What are the causes of anal warts?

Anal warts are fleshy skin growths that affect the area around the anus, or in some cases might also be found inside the anus (anal fistula). They usually start as tiny spots, perhaps as small as the head of a pin, and can grow to be quite large. They are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is also responsible for other types of warts and causes them to spread.

HPV is a very common virus and can be easily spread from person to person. It is very important that patients with HPV receive regular screenings, including those for anal warts. If anal warts are left untreated, they can grow into genital warts that are a risk for cancer.

Treatment of anal warts depends on whether they are external or internal. Those that are outside the anus can often be removed with freezing, trichloroacetic acid or surgical removal. This can be done on an outpatient basis, and is typically very quick and painless.

Those that are inside the anus are not suitable for treatment with medications, and in most cases need to be cauterized or surgically removed. In most cases, this can be done on an outpatient basis, using local or general anesthesia. Patients should continue to be followed by their physicians, as a single treatment is usually not sufficient to completely remove the warts.

What are the treatments for anal warts?

Depending on the location of the warts (and whether they extend into the anal canal) your doctor may treat them with a variety of medications that can be applied in the office or with prescription ointments that you can use at home. For large warts that don’t respond to the topical treatments, or for those that are located inside your anal canal, surgery might be necessary.

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During surgery, your colorectal surgeon may remove the anal warts with a scalpel or other surgical tool. Some patients experience pain and discomfort after this procedure, but the doctor can provide over-the-counter or prescription medication to alleviate any discomfort.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like bleeding from the anal area, it’s important to see a doctor right away. This might be a sign of anal warts, or it could indicate a more serious health condition such as a hemorrhoid.

Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus, which is easily transmitted from person to person, even with skin-to-skin genital contact. The virus can remain inactive for a long time, and this might explain why anal warts sometimes recur after they’re treated by your doctor. The CDC recommends that teens be immunized against HPV so they’ll become immune to the virus before sexual activity begins. For adults, using barrier methods like condoms and vaginal diaphragms can help prevent anal warts.

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