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Genital Warts in Teens: Care Instructions

Overview

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 or nurse call line 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 or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • To reduce the itching and irritation from genital warts:
    • Take warm baths or wash the area with warm water 3 or 4 times a day.
    • Keep the warts clean and dry in between baths. You may want to let the sores air dry. This may feel better than a towel.
    • 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?

It's easier to prevent an STI than it is to treat one.

  • Limit your sex partners. The safest sex is with one partner who has sex only with you.
  • Talk with your partner or partners about STIs before having sex. Find out if they are at risk for an STI. It's possible to have an STI and not know it.
  • Wait to have sex with a new partner until you've each been tested.
  • Don't have sex if you have symptoms of an infection or if you're being treated for an STI.
  • Use a condom (a male or female condom) every time you have sex.
  • Don't feel pressure to have sex. It's okay to say "no" anytime you want to stop.
  • Make sure you feel safe with your partner or partners. If you don't, talk with an adult you trust.

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

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • A genital wart hurts or spreads.
  • 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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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.