Genital warts or acuminated condylomas are the clinical expression of infection for certain types of Human papillomaviruses (HPVs). Genital warts are classified as low risk, but are considered to be one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. Therefore, it is necessary to seek prompt and effective treatment of this infection.
There are more than 120 types of human papillomaviruses, of which, types 6 and 11 are linked to genital warts. The warts can vary in location such as on the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, penis, scrotum, perineum or groin. Without treatment, genital warts can spontaneously recede, remain unchanged or increase in number and/or size.
Genital warts may be so small that a patient may not see them, sometimes itching or producing discharge. In areas other than the genitals, such as in the mouth, the symptomatology will depend on the number or size of the lesions. The diagnosis of genital warts is based mainly on a physical examination by a doctor, so it is advisable to have a colposcopy permitting the detection of small lesions.
Since genital HPV infections are sexually transmitted, it is essential to take preventative measures to decrease the risk of infection.
There are F.D.A.-approved vaccines that are very effective in preventing genital warts and cancers produced by HPV.
Some HPVs with oncogenic risk (between 20-25 virus types) are the leading cause of cervical cancer. They have also been shown to be involved in vulvar, vaginal, anal, penile and oral neoplasms. Some factors such as tobacco use, hormones, immunosuppression and repetitive sexually transmitted infections increase the risk of cancer.
Since most HPV infections (other than genital wart lesions) do not produce symptoms, they are confirmed by diagnostic means such as cytology, colposcopy, balanoscopy, anoscopy, and specific HPV tests.
There are different techniques available for the treatment of Genital warts depending on the characteristics of each case:
Precancerous cervical lesions produced by HPV are treated by a surgical technique called conization with the highly recommended asalaser. Laser therapy is also highly effective with vulvar, vaginal and/or perianal precancerous lesions.
Genital warts or acuminated condylomas are treated with topical applications of podophyllotoxin, imiquimod, or sinecatechins, or by excision, electrocoagulation, cryotherapy or laser treatment.
Laser therapy allows selective vaporization of genital warts; this causes less inflammation and edema which minimizes discomfort after treatment. The effectiveness of removing genital warts via laser is very high (it is often possible to vaporize all visible lesions). Compared to alternative techniques, it has the advantage of rapidly eliminating the lesions and reducing the likelihood of recurrence. In pregnant women, the treatment options for genital warts are laser and cryotherapy.
In any case, an examination by a doctor is essential to ensure the selection of the best treatment route for genital warts, as well as the recommendations that must be followed to avoid recurrences.
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