Genital Warts (HPV)

Genital warts have the form of superficial damage that can occur anywhere on the penis.

Genital warts are skin lesions caused by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). There are many types of this virus and the most common ones for genital warts are No. 6 and 11.

Genital warts have the form of superficial damage that can occur anywhere on the penis. The most common location is in the foreskin but they can appear on the body even at the base of the penis, the pube, as well as the anus, the urethra hilum or deeper in the urethra. They look like verruca and are easily asymptomatic. Rarely may they experience itching, bleeding or other mild discomfort.

The time they occur after the appearance of the virus varies and is usually from 3 weeks to 8 months or more. The virus infection can be in clinical, subclinical or in latent form. The clinical form is the lesion that can be seen with the naked eye, while the subclinical is the one that requires special means to be detected. The latent form is one in which the patient, despite having the virus, shows no damage. In this case, the person does not transmit the disease and the virus cannot be detected and killed.

Genital warts are not cancer. Although the HPV virus is carcinogenic, it mainly affects strains 16 and 18. Genital warts are due to types 11 and 6 and less frequently to others and are considered neither cancerous nor precancerous. They are, however, contagious relatively easy and require contact. The latent forms are not transmitted while the clinical and rather the subclinical ones are transmitted because the virus is active in them.

Clinical and subclinical lesions -if detected- are those that can be treated. To locate and diagnose them requires careful clinical examination of the entire penis called peoscopy, the pube even the anus. Clinical forms are immediately perceived from the specially trained doctor, while for subclinics it is necessary to rub the area with 3% or 5% of acetic acid to make them visible. Urethroscopy is required to detect lesions in the urethra. This is performed with special tools (urethoscopes) and is a completely painless examination because a special anesthetic in the form of a gel is placed inside the urethra.

Treatment consists of cauterizing or cooling the area with various techniques in order to kill the virus.

Treatment consists of cauterizing or cooling the area with various techniques in order to kill the virus. Alternative treatments for milder lesions are the local application of creams that cauterize the lesion but also cause a small local burn. For the application of cauterization, local anesthesia is performed in the lesion area and so the procedure is completely painless and the patient leaves the clinic immediately.

The difficulty in treating genital warts is that we don’t know if after cauterization of the lesion there are other outbreaks that are latent. Therefore a man, even after cauterization of visible lesions, must be in clinical observation to prevent the transition of latent forms that are non-contagious to clinics that are contagious. The total follow-up period, as well as the intervals between controls is not clearly defined. It depends on each case, the number and size of lesions and other factors. However, we believe that if in a year there is no recurrence, then the percentage that the body managed to neutralize the virus exceeds 90%.

The key factor to avoid re-infection is proper prevention. Since transmission is though contact, a condom is necessary. However, it does not protect effectively, because it does not cover the base of the penis or the pube and other areas outside the penis. The only effective precaution is to avoid contact with infected people until they are cured, as far as possible.

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