There are several types of low-risk genital warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). These low risk genital warts infect the skin and are benign.
Having low risk genital warts infections that cause benign warts does not increase a person's risk of developing cancer. In other words, the types of low risk viruses that cause warts on the skin surrounding the genital area do not causes cancer.
Low risk genital warts are spread by direct contact with an infected person or through indirect contact with contraindicated surfaces such as bathing facilities, clothing or towels. Since low risk genital warts generally appear a few months after contact, it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to determine exactly where and when an HPV infection occurred.
HPVs have gained widespread attention for their rare, but proven, role in the development of genital and anal cancers, particularly cancer of the cervix. These cancers are related to very specific types of HPV that infect the mucosal tissue that lines the genital area. That is why the distinction between low risk and high risk warts is so important.
If you develop symptoms of genital warts, it is important to see a doctor immediately, especially if you are female. Only your doctor can determine if the HPV virus that has affected you is high risk or low risk. Sometimes, the lesions are only visible when an enhancing technique called acetowhitening is used. This technique involves the application of 5% acetic acid solution to the lesion for about five to ten minutes. Infected areas will turn white. Magnification of the area using a special scope may be necessary to see lesions in the vaginal canal or the cervix. If a lesion appears to be high risk a biopsy will likely be performed.
Even if genital warts are determined to be low risk, your doctor may still want you to have PAP smears every six months, especially when the virus is active and producing symptoms. Treatment of low risk genital warts is aimed at reducing the discomfort associated with the symptoms. Treatments for low risk genital warts may involve the use of topical prescription creams that can be used at home or treatments that must be administered in a doctor's office.
It is important to understand that even though treatment may be successful in removing the low risk genital warts, there is no cure for the HPV virus. The virus will remain in your body and could result in another low risk genital wart outbreak at any time.
Human papillomavirus (HPV): The virus that causes genital warts
Acetowhitening: A procedure performed in a physician's office to assist in the diagnosis of HPV.
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