Updated by: David L. Swanson, MD, Vice Chair of Medical Dermatology, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Medical School, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
It may take from four weeks to eight months, or longer, for the warts to appear after contact with the virus. Sometimes warts never appear or you can’t see them. Whether you can see warts or not, the virus can still be passed on to others.
Sonawane K, Suk R, et al. Oral Human Papillomavirus Infection: Differences in Prevalence Between Sexes and Concordance With Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection, NHANES 2011 to 2014. Annals of Internal Medicine. November 21, 2017.
Regular Pap smears of the cervix are generally advised in women over 35 years in order to detect abnormalities that may indicate premalignant or suspicious cell growth. These suspicious cells in the cervix may indicate early changes in cell growth, known as cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or CIN that may have occurred due to infection with particular “high-risk” types of HPV, like types 16 and 18. CIN lesions are early warning signs of cervical cancer. It is important to note however, that the types of HPV that cause genital warts, types 6 and 11, do NOT cause cancer of the cervix.
There is not a single male genital warts cure, but the above treatments have been known to have substantial success with wart removal. Genital may return at a later date, as the HPV virus still remains in the cells. Infections may become active again, should the immune system be compromised by illness.
The risk of catching warts from another person is low, but they can be passed on, especially if the person has a compromised immune system. This includes people with HIV or AIDS, and those using immunosuppressants following a transplant.
Flat warts: This type of wart is more common in teens and children than in adults. Flat warts are smoother and smaller than other warts and they generally occur on the face. Flat warts also can appear on the legs, especially among females.
During anal sex, HPV can be spread into the anal canal. Some types of HPV can cause changes in the cells inside the anus that can lead to anal cancer. The chances may be higher in men who are HIV positive and have sex with other men.
“The warts returned after a year, but instead of going back to the clinic I listened to my mom who said she didn’t believe it was that serious and that I should consult a sangoma first’. The sangoma claimed to cure warts. I immediately started using the traditional medicine as she instructed, but my warts got worst and I was never cured.”
According to an April 2017 report from the National Center for Health Statistics, during 2013 and 2014, the prevalence of any genital HPV infection among U.S. adults ages 18 to 59 was 42.5 percent. Among men the prevalence was 45.2 percent, and among women, 39.9 percent. (6)
Diagnosing vaginal warts is a bit more complicated that diagnosing warts on the penis. In the former case, a doctor may be forced to carry out a pelvic examination. For the later, it mainly involves looking for bumps on the penis.
Normally, warts are found on the top layer of skin (epidermis). They may look different depending on what area of the body they are on. They can often have small black or dark red spots in the center. These spots are very small clotted blood vessels.
Plantar warts: This type of wart usually appears as flesh-coloured or light brown lumps that are flecked with small clotted blood vessels that appear as tiny black dots. Plantar warts (verrucas) appear on the soles of the feet.