Genital warts, also called condyloma, are an extremely common skin infection transmitted by sexual contact. These warts may be found on the genitals, in the mucous membranes of the mouth, near the anus, or in the rectum. Warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This is the same virus that can cause pre-cancers of the cervix, and is the reason we perform pap smears. Pre-cancers on the cervix are microscopic growths, while warts are usually obvious growths on the skin.

Most women are more comfortable having warts treated by a gynecologist rather than a dermatologist. We also treat male partners for warts, as well. Relax. There is no shame in having this viral infection of the skin, and we want you to feel comfortable coming to us with this embarrassing but easily solved problem.

We have a number of options for treating warts, depending on the severity and how quickly you want your warts to disappear.

  • Topical application of an immune response creamThis prescription medication is applied by you in the privacy of your home, usually three times a week at bedtime. It is washed off in the morning. The therapy can take 4-6 weeks to resolve the wart(s). There is no damage or scarring to normal skin, but some people experience a mild irritation with this product and usually feel better after skipping one treatment night.
  • Application of acid in the office We can apply a focal dose of topical acid to the wart, which chemically “burns” the wart and makes it disappear. This acid can cause a few minutes of local discomfort at the site where it is applied. The superficial skin cells are destroyed, a scab forms, and the virus-infected skin sloughs off. The medicine is not absorbed by the body, so there are no whole-body side effects. Use of acid is best for quick resolution of one or a few small warts.
  • Cryotherapy or “freezing”Freezing a focal area of skin is another way to rid the wart. While use of acid “burns”, freezing causes a tiny area of frostbite that allows the virus-infected skin to die and slough off. Freezing causes the skin around the wart to blister, and is associated with a few minutes of discomfort while treating, and some mild discomfort later in the day. Freezing can also be used for isolated warts, but is sometimes better for larger areas.
  • Laser surgery Some warts are extensive. A severe case may require an outpatient surgical procedure using a laser to treat. Our physicians are experts at using the most modern and effective technologies to treat warts in the least invasive way. Laser surgery for warts requires general anesthesia and usually a few days for recovery.