Cauliflower warts are genital warts that are commonly associated with an HPV infection. This sexually transmitted infection is common in 35 and older groups. However, there has been an overall incidence decline during the past 15 years thanks to the Gardisil vaccine.
Cauliflower warts, or soft warts, are a characteristic feature of an infection caused by the human papillomavirus, or the HPV. These warts appear on the genitals and can cause extreme pain, discomfort, and itching. In most cases, these warts can also cause a burning sensation when peeing. Bleeding and an unusual discharge from the genitals is also a common feature of this infection. HPV warts usually go away independently, but they are never fully cured. A person who has developed cauliflower warts once may experience several outbreaks throughout their life.
While genital warts caused by HPV do not ever fully go away, there are several methods that you can use to reduce both the intensity and the frequency with which they reappear. Read more below to learn about HPV types, the infection itself, and each type's risk.
WHAT STD CAUSES CAULIFLOWER WARTS?
As mentioned above, cauliflower warts are genital warts characteristic of an HPV infection. HPV infections can occur in both men and women and cause serious problems if left untreated. To understand more about tackling the problems associated with this infection, it is worth taking time to learn more about the virus that causes this disease.
HPV, or the human papillomavirus, has over 40 strains but only a couple cause genital warts. The most important subtypes of HPV are types 6 and 11, also caused by the low-risk HPV types. These subtypes are typically associated with the appearance of cauliflower warts on the genitals.
HPV is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, often during sexual intercourse. Therefore, HPV infections are commonly regarded as sexually transmitted infections.
Some of the usual symptoms include:
- Warts on the penis and scrotum in men
- Warts on the vagina, vulva, and cervix
- Lesion on the inner thighs and in or around the anus
- Genital discharge
- Burning sensation, especially when peeing
The human papillomavirus can linger inside the epithelial cells of your genitals and throat. This means it is very hard to get rid of this virus completely. Therefore, people with genital warts often experience multiple outbreaks throughout their life.
While there is no definitive cure for an HPV infection, the virus often lies dormant. Some people, however, experience recurring warts during their lifetime. These individuals can seek effective treatment from their healthcare providers to lower the intensity and frequency with which these warts appear. Oftentimes, warts need to be burned off or chemically removed.
ARE GENITAL WARTS TREATABLE?
While there is no cure, genital warts caused by HPV can be managed with proper medication. Treatment for these warts is usually centered on treating the associated symptoms with this infection.
Trying to treat genital warts with over-the-counter medications for warts is never recommended. Genital warts are caused by different strains of viruses that cause warts on your body elsewhere. Trying OTC drugs to treat genital warts may cause more harm than good.
Similarly, using unproven home remedies to treat genital warts may complicate your infection and cause unprecedented harm. Home remedies like applying warm clothes or using herbal ointments are not recommended by healthcare providers.
It is always recommended to visit your healthcare provider if you are having recurrent outbreaks of genital warts that do not seem to go away on their own. If you have developed genital warts following an episode of unprotected sexual intercourse, visit your healthcare provider immediately and get tested for HPV.
WHAT CAN I DO TO LOWER MY RISK OF DEVELOPING GENITAL WARTS?
While sexually active individuals are at risk of acquiring HPV, some people are at a higher risk than others. High-risk behaviors for acquiring HPV include:
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Having unprotected sexual intercourse
- Having other STDs
The best defense against HPV is vaccination. You can also employ safe-sex behaviors to lower your risk of acquiring HPV through sexual contact. Getting tested annually for HPV and other STIs is also a good way to stay protected against this virus. If caught early, HPV can be treated effectively, and all the complications associated with this infection can also be avoided.