Molluscum Contagiosum: There are two kinds of warts, simple and genital. Both can infect the genitals; it is crucial to recognize the difference. Simple warts are the kind which appears on the hands of children. They are small, dimpled papules, which look like spots with a drop of pearly fluid inside. They are highly contagious, as their Latin name shows. They can be transmitted to the genitals by self or partner from warts on the hands and elsewhere. The virus enters the skin through invisible lesions which occur during sexual activity. The warts appear some 30 days after contact. Attacks of simple warts on the genitals are rare, being most likely in the teens and 20 to 30 age group.
If the penis is infected with simple warts, some men try self therapy. This is not advisable for women. Simple warts can be painful if rubbed, otherwise a woman is unaware of them. They are not life-threatening, nor do untold damage, but they are highly contagious. Visit the physician or clinic. Therapy varies.
Human Papilloma Virus: HPV is specific to the genital area. It is transmitted by direct sexual contact. The warts appear 3 weeks to 3 months after contact, but the incubation time can be up to 8 months, even more. The warts can be single; usually, they grow in clusters like grapes. With their raised, bumpy tops, they look like miniature cauliflowers. They grow on the labia lips or anus, inside the vagina, or on the cervix. In many cases, they are asymptomatic, and the woman is unaware that she is infected.
The warts are painless, but easily irritated by rubbing, and sometimes they itch. If there has been anal contact, they can grow inside the rectum and around the anus. More rarely with oral contact, they infect the linings of the mouth. If the warts breed in colonies on the cervix, the disease may not be detected until a Pap smear is done. Women with HPV have a five times higher risk of cancer of the cervix.
Larger warts, especially on the cervix, may be vaporized by laser therapy, but it is difficult to know if they have all been destroyed. The healing process takes 6 weeks. Repeat therapy is necessary if they flare up again; avoid losing patience as laser therapy usually works. Other therapies include burning the warts off by electric cautery, or freezing them with dry ice. The physician then snips them off. External warts can be painted with the drug podophyllin. It takes 3 or 4 weekly treatments for the warts to dry up and drop off.
HPV infection is also called condyloma. The prescription drug Condylox has just been made available for home treatment, which means that patients no longer need to have a physician apply the therapy. At least 56 different types of the virus have been identified.