Anal Warts- Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Definition

An anal wart is a condition where small warts occur in or around the rectum. They can be yellow, pink, or light brown in color, and only rarely are painful or uncomfortable. In fact, infected individuals often are unaware that they exist. Most cases are caused by sexual transmission.

The virus is most likely to be transmitted to your sex partners when the warts are actually present, but sometimes they are too small to see with the naked eye (subclinical). Very little is known about passing subclinical HPV to sex partners.

Causes

HPV is spread by direct contact. The virus can be spread to or from the genitals, anus, mouth, or throat during sexual activities. However, warts in the mouth or throat are extremely rare. Condoms may reduce the spread of infection, but they do not provide complete protection.

Some risk factors for developing anal warts are:

  • smoking
  • using oral contraceptives
  • having multiple sexual partners
  • Radiation therapy directed at or near the rectum, such as for treatment of rectal or prostate cancer
  • Chemicals, such as hydrogen peroxide enemas, medications or objects placed inside the rectum

Symptoms

Anal warts usually do not usually cause pain or discomfort. Because of this reason, many individuals with anal warts are not aware that they are present. When anal warts do appear, they can range in size from very tiny bumps to large cauliflower-shaped growths (bleeding and pain with bowel movements). Anal warts which occur outside the rectum are called perianal; those which occur inside the rectum are called intra-anal and effect the lower inch or two of the rectum.

Treatment

The diagnosis of genital warts is often made visually by doctors who recognize their distinct appearance. Although typically the warts look white, they can be lighter or darker than your normal skin.

There are a number of treatment options for anal warts. It can probably never be completely removed from the body, since viruses are extremely difficult to remove from body. However, warts can be treated using medications applied to them, or special injections at the base of the warts, or by removal. Even when the warts are removed, it is possible to pass on the virus to another person during sexual contact. To decrease the chances of passing on the virus, condoms should be used during sexual activity. In some cases a laser can be used to remove the warts. The best treatment will depend on the number of warts and their location. Surgery can be used to remove precancerous and cancerous cells from the anus. However, in many cases the precancerous or cancerous cells may recur.

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