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Genital Warts: Care Instructions

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 visible warts.

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

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.

To prevent the spread of genital warts

  • Be sure to use a latex condom every time you have sex. You can infect someone even if you do not have an obvious wart.
  • Having one sex partner (who does not have STIs and does not have sex with anyone else) is a good way to avoid STIs.
  • Wash your hands if you touch the warts.
  • Talk to your sex partner or partners about genital warts.

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.

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

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

Where can you learn more?

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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.