Genital Warts: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Genital warts are caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV). They are considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) because the virus can be spread by sexual contact. The warts often look like small, fleshy bumps or flat, white patches. They can be anywhere in the genital area. You can also be infected with HPV yet not have warts that can be seen.

Genital warts often go away on their own without treatment. Some people decide to treat them because of the symptoms or the way the warts look.

There is a vaccine for HPV. If you have not had the vaccine, ask your doctor if getting the vaccine is right for you.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor gave you medicine to treat your warts at home, use the medicine exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • To reduce the itching and irritation from genital warts:
    • Keep the warts clean and dry. You may want to let the area air dry after a bath or shower. This may feel better than a towel.
    • Avoid shaving an area where warts are present. Shaving can spread the warts.
    • Do not use over-the-counter wart removal products to treat genital warts. These products are not intended for the genital area and may cause serious burns.

How can you prevent it?

Here are some ways to help prevent STIs.

  • Limit your sex partners. Sex with one partner who has sex only with you can reduce your risk of getting an STI.
  • Talk with your partner or partners about STIs before you have sex. Find out if they are at risk for an STI. Remember that it's possible to have an STI and not know it.
  • Wait to have sex with new partners until you've each been tested.
  • Don't have sex if you have symptoms of an infection or if you are being treated for an STI.
  • Use a condom every time you have sex. Condoms are the only form of birth control that also helps prevent STIs.
  • Don't share sex toys. But if you do share them, use a condom and clean the sex toys between each use.

Vaccines are available for some STIs, such as HPV. Ask your doctor for more information.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • A genital wart hurts or spreads.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You want further treatment for your genital warts.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.