Genital warts - symptoms and treatment

Genital warts - symptoms and treatment

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Genital warts: these are the signs and therapy

Warts are disliked, they are hidden as much as possible and most of those affected are disgusted with the small skin ulcers. Pointy condylomas (condylomata acuminata) or simply genital warts are often taboo and the feeling of shame prevents those affected from visiting the doctor, which is very important in this case. Genital warts are benign, are transmitted by HPV (human papillomaviruses) and are mainly found in the area of ​​the genitals.

Human papilloma virus (HPV)

The cause of genital warts is the human papillomavirus (HPV). This belongs to the papilloma virus family, which are sexually transmitted. More than 150 different virus types fall under the generic term HPV. The individual viruses have specialized in certain areas of the body. Some are more likely to be found on normal skin areas, while others are on mucous membranes.

Another differentiator is risk. They are divided into low-risk types (low-risk) and high-risk types (high-risk). The genital warts are assigned to the low-risk group. The human papilloma viruses are very common. Skin warts, transmitted by these viruses, can already be seen in every tenth schoolchild.


The transmission paths are different, depending on the virus type. The low-risk types HPV 6 and HPV 11 are primarily responsible for the development of genital warts. These are usually transmitted through unprotected sex. Another possibility of infection is skin contact. The mother, who is already infected, can also transmit genital warts to the child during childbirth. In addition, smear infection is also possible, for example by using the same towel, when staying in the sauna or in the swimming pool or by touching surfaces (for example door handles, shopping carts and so on).

If the viruses are transmitted to other people, genital warts do not necessarily have to develop. The viruses can first nest in cells of the skin or mucous membrane and stay there without causing any symptoms. In these cases one speaks of a silent infection. The incubation period can be a few weeks or even months. During this time, the viruses can multiply in the body without symptoms. The disease may not start until the immune system is not up to scratch. Then the genital warts become visible.

Although the low-risk HPV types are usually responsible for infection, the genital warts can unfortunately also have high-risk variants (especially HPV 16). Co-infections with a wide variety of HPV types are also possible.

Risk factors

Risk factors for infection include a weakened immune system and more often unprotected intercourse with changing partners. Poor intimate hygiene and careless shaving, which injures the skin and causes inflammation in the genital area, are also risk factors. The risk factors also include:

  • Nicotine,
  • Drugs,
  • the long-term intake of sex hormones,
  • moist environment,
  • Diabetes,
  • Phimosis (narrowing of the foreskin),
  • Hemorrhoids and
  • strong discharge.

Patients taking immunosuppressive drugs or AIDS sufferers tend to get genital warts. Humans can harbor the papillomaviruses in them without getting sick, but nevertheless transmit them to others.

Appearance, occurrence, symptoms

Initially, genital warts can be so small that they are overlooked by the naked eye. They are usually the size of a pinhead. However, they can grow and grow several centimeters. The extreme case is a cauliflower or rooster comb-like proliferation, which can lead to huge tumor conglomerates. These are aggressive and destroy the surrounding tissue. Genital warts can also occur on the mucous membrane, inside the body, such as in the urethra. The color of the condyloma is gray-white, brownish or reddish.

For women, they come mainly in the area

  • the labia,
  • at the entrance to the vagina,
  • in the cervix
  • or also in the urethral mouth.

In men, the predilection points are the places where the genital warts primarily settle

  • the penis shaft,
  • The anus,
  • the foreskin,
  • the acorn,
  • the entrance of the urethra and
  • the rectum.

Genital warts don't have to cause discomfort. Itching is possible if the warts are in body folds, as well as burning and increased discharge. Small bleeding tears in the skin around the warts are also possible. For most of those affected, the psychological stress is much greater than the physical complaints. Those affected are ashamed, withdraw, feel guilty.


Despite the feeling of shame associated with genital warts - going to the doctor is essential. The sooner the better. A physical examination is usually sufficient to make the diagnosis of condylomata acuminata.

In the beginning, the condylomas are often so small that the naked eye is not enough to be really sure. The doctor then grabs a three percent acetic acid with which he carefully dabs the affected skin areas (please never do it yourself!). If the test is positive, the affected skin is white, but unfortunately this can also happen if a fungus is the cause. The safest is a tissue sample. The pathogen can thus be clearly identified.

Important questions should be asked as part of the medical history, such as:

  • "When did the skin changes first appear?"
  • "Are you taking any drugs that suppress the immune system?"
  • "How is your defense at the moment - are you often sick?"
  • "Do you suffer from itching, burning or increased discharge?"

If no clear diagnosis is possible or if there are suspicions of genital warts in the invisible area, further diagnostic options are possible, such as

  • a tactile examination of the anus,
  • a proctoscopy (rectal examination),
  • urethroscopy (urethra mirroring) and
  • in the woman an examination of the vagina with the speculum.


An individual approach is important for the treatment. An optimal therapy that applies to all patients does not exist here. Several methods are often combined. The doctor can take medication, in the form of Ointments or solutions prescribe that destroy the warts. Both Acid solutions Precise, careful handling is extremely important so that the surrounding, healthy skin is not attacked. Treatment with a virus-killing cream is also possible. The condylomas can with laser overcooked, electrically removed or cut off. Local anesthesia is required.

Another option is Cryotherapy (Icing), which is particularly effective in the area of ​​the anus. In some cases, the foreskin must be removed from the man. Existing diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, that favor the development of genital warts, must be treated.

No matter which therapy is chosen, follow-up visits within a certain period of time are essential. In stubborn cases, treatment may be supported with an immune-boosting measure.

For several years, an ointment has been on the market that contains a dry extract of green tea. It is known that green tea has a positive effect on the immune system and can be both antiviral and antibacterial. In this way, the ingredients of the ointment prevent an increase in the number of infected skin cells, reduce the increase in the virus and boost the immune system. In Germany, this ointment requires a prescription.

Pregnant women should go to their gynecologist's office immediately if there is any suspicion. Care must be taken here.


Vaccines against certain types of HPV virus have existed for years. These are designed to protect girls from cervical cancer. The vaccination committee recommends vaccination between the ages of nine and fourteen, but at the latest up to the age of 17, in any case before the first sexual intercourse.

Since 2018, HPV vaccination has also been recommended for boys. Since the viruses can not only cause cervical cancer, but are also responsible for cancers such as anal cancer or mouth and throat cancer, the vaccination recommendation was made by the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO). Vaccinations should take place in boys between the ages of nine and fourteen. Since August 2018, the costs have also been covered by the health insurance companies.

HPV vaccination protects against genital warts, but not if you already have a disease.

General tips

If one partner has genital warts, the other should definitely be examined. As long as the warts persist, a condom must be used during intercourse. Even the condom does not protect one hundred percent against transmission, since skin contact or a smear infection are also possible as a transmission path. Pay attention to cleanliness, never use the same towel, avoid injuries when shaving. Regular checks at the doctor clarify when the condylomas have healed.

Avoid anything that could weaken the immune system during treatment, such as alcohol, drugs, excessive exercise and lack of sleep. Pay attention to a regular daily routine, reduce stress if possible. Get plenty of fresh air and eat a healthy diet.


Genital warts belong in the hands of a doctor and unauthorized "doctrining" is absolutely not to be done. In addition to the treatment of the doctor, certain naturopathic remedies, properly selected by the therapist, can have an antiviral and defensive effect. Naturopathic treatment at the same time as conventional medicine can definitely shorten the healing time.

The rock rose is used successfully for influenza viruses. So their antiviral effects are also worth trying. Echinacea, the coneflower, supports the immune system, especially when it is used in the form of a so-called rocking therapy: as a mother tincture, a few drops, three days ingestion - three days off - three days ingestion - three days off, etc. - after four weeks there is one Take a break of at least two weeks.

What also stimulates the immune system and also has an antiviral effect is thuja in homeopathic form. In addition, the intake of colostrum is recommended. Colostrum does not stimulate the immune system, but has a modulating effect, which is very important if the patient has an autoimmune disease. Here Echinacea is absolutely contraindicated. On the outside, dabbing with a balm ointment or a strong balm decoction can provide relief.


In summary, genital warts should be examined by the doctor and treated as soon as possible. At home, the regulations given by the doctor regarding the use of medication, cleanliness and other rules of conduct must be strictly observed. Simultaneous treatment with naturopathic preparations can shorten the healing time and provide faster relief. But here, too, a visit to a therapist is necessary. Unauthorized action should be avoided. (sw)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Deutsche Aidshilfe e.V .: Feigwarzen / HPV (accessed: July 8, 2019), aidshilfe.de
  • Altmeyer, Peter: Dermatology and allergology therapy dictionary: Compact therapy from A-Z, Springer, 2nd edition, 2005
  • Paul-Ehrlich-Gesellschaft für Chemotherapie e.V. (PEG): S2k guideline HPV-associated lesions of the outer genito-anal region and the anus - genital warts and cancer precursors of the vulva, penis and peri- and intra-anal skin, as of November 2017, detailed view of guidelines
  • Robert Koch Institute: RKI guide for human papilloma viruses (accessed: July 8, 2019), rki.de
  • Mylonas, Ioannis: Sexually Transmitted Diseases: A Guide for Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Springer, 2015
  • National Health Service UK: Genital warts (access: July 8, 2019), nhs.uk
  • Mayo Clinic: Genital warts (accessed: July 8, 2019), mayoclinic.org
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Genital HPV Infection - Fact Sheet (accessed: July 8, 2019), cdc.gov

ICD codes for this disease: A63ICD codes are internationally valid encodings for medical diagnoses. You can find yourself e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

Video: Do I have genital warts? (September 2022).