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Anal Warts (Condyloma)

What are Anal Warts?

Anal warts, also known as condyloma, are growths found on the skin around the anus (rectal opening) or in the lower rectum.

Causes of Anal Warts

Anal warts are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), which is usually transmitted through sexual contact but not necessarily through anal intercourse. There are many types of HPV; some cause warts on the hands and feet and others cause genital and anal warts. The same type of warts may occur on the penis, scrotum, vagina, or labia. The time from exposure to the virus and growth of the warts is commonly from one to six months, but it can be longer. During that time, the virus remains in the tissue but is inactive.

Symptoms of Anal Warts

For many patients, there are commonly no symptoms. Some patients may notice small growths in the anal area while others have minor complaints of itching, occasional bleeding, or moisture in the anal canal. Anal warts are diagnosed when a doctor inspects the skin around the anus and checks the anal canal with an anoscope, a short instrument inserted into the anus.

How to prevent Anal Warts

Anal warts are a contagious condition meaning if you have sexual relations with someone who has anal warts you are more likely to get them. The best ways to prevent this are:

  • Refrain from sexual activity until treatment is completed.
  • Sexual partners should be checked for anal warts.
  • Use condoms, they offer some, but not complete protection.

Treating Anal Warts

There are several ways anal warts can be treated, it depends on the location, number, and size of the warts. If the warts small, they can be treated with podophyllin or bichloracetic acid, which are solutions applied directly to the warts intended to cause sloughing of the wart. This is an office procedure that takes just a few minutes.

Occasionally, an ointment will be prescribed that is applied by the patient at home. This supplements the treatment provided in the office.

Another form of treatment is cauterization. If the area contains numerous warts, the doctor may choose to remove them surgically. This is done as a same-day procedure in a hospital or surgery center.