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A Guide to Anal Warts

By: Josh Riverside

Anal warts, known in the medical profession as condyloma, are growths caused by infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV) and are usually found on the skin around the anus (rectal opening), inside the anal canal or in the lower rectum.

Anal warts are usually but not exclusively transmitted through sexual intercourse, usually anal intercourse, which makes the problem prevalent in the gay community. It can take from one to six months from time of exposure to the initial outbreak, however the time span has been known to take years.

Before and after the outbreak, the virus remains in the body but is inactive. Even if the outbreak is successfully treated and the symptoms have been completely removed, the virus remains in the body and may cause another outbreak at any time.

The main problem to getting quick and effective treatment of anal warts is that there are usually no visible symptoms. There may or may not be small growths in the anal area. For other people, there may be some itching, burning, bleeding or mysterious moisture in the area. Usually, the patient becomes alarmed at the irregularities in a rather sensitive area and seeks diagnoses quickly.

Qualified medical practitioners commonly use a device called an anoscope, which is a short instrument easily inserted into the anus, and allows the doctor to see what is going on just inside the rectal opening, behind the sphincter muscles. If there are any growths present in the skin of the anal canal, the doctor may require further testing to determine the exact cause of the problem. In most cases, however, a qualified doctor has seen many cases of anal warts and can proceed immediately to a treatment program.

Depending on the number, size and exact location of anal warts, there are a variety of treatments available.

Small warts can be treated with podophyllin or bichloracetic acid applied directly to the warts which cause exfoliation. This procedure takes place in your doctors office and takes just a few minutes.

If the outbreak is more serious, cauterization is another successful treatment. First, the area is numbed and then the warts are burned off. And finally, if the warts are more prevalent than can be handled with cauterization, the doctor may decide to remove them surgically.

In either case, the treatment is almost always successful and recovery is a lot less uncomfortable than it might sound.

For more on the HPV virus and vaccine see Genital Warts.

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