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Definition and dangers of HPV and anal warts
Definition: The official scientific name designation for anal warts is condylomata acuminata, and they are a symptom of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
While the very idea of having anal warts – HPV – is quite disgusting to most people, the danger that HPV poses is far greater than discomfort and cleanliness issues.
HPV can lead to multiple problems for both men and women if left untreated, including the possibility of cancer. While there are some strains of HPV that are carcinogenic, they are NOT the same strains that cause anal / genital warts.
How is HPV spread? What Causes HPV?
HPV is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact. It is most often sexually transmitted, but once caught, HPV can be spread to other parts of the body by scratching – scratching can damage healthy surrounding tissue, making it easier for the HPV to invade that tissue. Scratching also can result in the HPV getting onto and under finger nails, which can then infect other parts of the body if they are scratched as well.
The HPV viral particles enter the body through normally occurring microscopic abrasions in the genital or anal area.
The HPV virus can lie dormant for anywhere from three months to two years, but the carrier is still contagious for all of that time, making HPV one of the more prevalent and difficult to track sexually transmitted viruses today.
In fact, over 6.2 million new cases of HPV infection are reported in the United States alone per year, and at least 20 million people are already have HPV.
Condylomata acuminata, or warts, are one of the most common symptoms of HPV infection, but, as they take some time to develop, are not a reliable diagnostic method.
Anal and genital warts are caused by the same HPV virus, and can form anywhere in the pelvic region, including on the interior or exterior of the anal and vaginal canals, or on the exterior of male genitalia.
Differentiating between anal warts and hemorrhoids – how are HPV symptoms different?
The HPV warts often occur in clusters that start out very tiny but can soon spread into large masses.
Anal warts are easily distinguishable from hemorrhoids, as there will be a distinct border between the wart and surrounding skin.
Warts can be raised or flat, but they generally have a distinct, cauliflower-like texture. In addition, the warts will probably start much smaller than a hemorrhoid, and grow over time.
The warts can also start rising in the general groin or on the upper thighs.
Anal warts usually do not cause pain, although when they get larger they can cause problems with waste elimination.
If you are really concerned about having anal / genital warts, you can read much more about warts, genital warts and genital wart treatment on WartsAndGenitalWarts.com Another site we run, which is written by a medical doctor, Dr. James Hogg, and edited by me, Donald Urquhart, psychologist. Finish reading this page though, as it has a lot of good information on genital warts, and on warts.
What do anal warts do to you? HPV effects?
However, even with informed self diagnosis, genital warts still need to be seen by a doctor, as they can cause problems of their own:
First, of course, this type of HPV are rather unsightly and can cause some serious self-esteem issues.
Second, it is important to make sure that you do, in fact, have condyloma acuminata instead of other, more serious problems. Maybe it’s not HPV.
Third, the warts can become brittle over time, leading to less elasticity in the tissues of canal walls, which could cause serious injury if excessive straining occurs.
Rarely, these types of warts enter into the urethra and can block off the ability to urinate at all.
Will HPV anal warts flareups go away?
Anal and genital warts sometimes go away on their own, but DO NOT count on that happening. Other than seeing it as warts, HPV is rather invisible. Also, there is a strong chance that the HPV will infect healthy cells if the warts are left untreated, leaving you at risk of getting many more anal warts, which will also then likely spread the HPV more and lead to more anal warts or warts in other areas as it spreads round.
Further down the page is a personal account of a HPV sufferer. By hoping the anal warts would go away, he ended up needing significant and painful surgery. Please don’t ignore your HPV infection.
If the HPV warts start causing a real problem, there are several different HPV treatments to consider – remember though that successful HPV or anal wart treatment is NOT a cure. HPV is, by and large, incurable:
The first treatments tried for external warts are a variety of prescription only creams, such as imiquimod cream, a 20% podophyllin antimitotic solution, a 0.5% podofilox solution, a 5% 5-fluorouracil cream, or trichloroacetic acid.
All of these medications are rather caustic in nature, so, considering the location of anal warts, they generally have to be applied by a doctor for you while you lay on your stomach.
You do not, under any circumstances, want to screw up in such a delicate area and apply a burning solution to your non-warty skin. That is a recipe for some rather intense pain and potential damage to skin and muscle tissue.
Minor wart removal surgery
If the warts are small, your doctor might recommend freezing them off, burning them off with an electrical current, or laser treatment. All three of these procedures can be very dangerous, so feel free to demand the surgeon’s credentials and references.
While all of these methods are wonderful at removing warts in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, potential risks include infection, scarring, and the damage and burning of deep muscle tissue which could impair quite a few normal activities of daily living.
Always remember that these are your delicate bits under the gun, so to speak, not the doctor’s, and you are under no obligation to let anyone near your delicate bits who you do not completely trust.
More difficult wart removal
Large warts or warts inside either the vaginal or anal canals will have to be operated on by more traditional methods. It is important to have them out, especially if the masses of them are getting to large to allow normal function. As above and for the same reasons, feel free to ask for surgeon credentials and references.
Recovery from wart surgery
All of these surgical treatments are usually done on an outpatient basis, with you going in and going home on the same day, but the recovery time can vary wildly.
The doctor may prescribe antibiotics for you to take after surgery just as insurance against infection, especially as the area in question is so bacteria-rich.
However, getting smaller masses removed from the exterior by way of freezing, burning, or laser can allow you to recover much faster.
For all methods, it’s important that you keep the area clean, take any and all prescriptions the doctor may give you, and don’t lift anything heavy or try to move too fast until the area is sufficiently healed.
Personal experience with the HPV warts
One of my relatives had anal warts, and they made him miserable. He didn’t think anything of them at first, but eventually they grew so large that he found surgical removal was the only way to deal with them.
He was in and out of the hospital on the same day, and came to stay with me because he couldn’t walk well, nor sit comfortably, for about two weeks.
He needed help to cook, to change his bandages, to bathe, and to pick up his medications as he was rather woozy and in quite a bit of pain for the first couple of days.
While it was rather uncomfortable for everyone concerned, I and my family were warned ahead of time and we managed.
So, if you have to have warts removed, do make sure to find out from the doctor how extensive the surgery is going to be and plan accordingly.
Do not plan to go back to work immediately, if at all possible, and do get very close family or friends to help.
Too much strenuous activity too soon can bring on infection, split stitches, knock scabs off, and generally complicate the whole process to an even greater degree.
REDUCING the HPV outbreaks of anal warts:
I came across one product, that doesn’t claim to be a cure, but apparently there are some studies supporting their position that adding certain nutrients, such as selenium, into the diet can reduce the frequency of genital wart episodes.
Reading books I found that:
The ingestion of Zinc has also been found to be quite helpful in reducing outbreaks, but requires medical supervision, as the therapeutic dose of 135 mg per day can have unpleasant side effects, such as nausea.
The following combination of vitamins and minerals may help prevent the HPV anal wart flareups:
The following taken daily orally:
Selenium – mineral – 200micrograms. Vitamin A – 10,000 IU. Vitamin C – 500mg. Zinc – 15milligrams. Vitamin E – 500 IU.
Herbs for fighting HPV outbreak of warts:
Garlic – herb – has been found helpful as a topical application. You cut a clove in half each night and rub the cut side onto the warts, making sure to clean up the garlic juice from surrounding tissue. Cover with waterproof bandaids. Remove bandaids and wash in the warts in the morning. After nine weeks of doing this treatment repeatedly, the warts may be gone.
Olive Leaf products with 17 to 23% oleuropein may be helpful – use according to directions.
Some people use Greater Celandine – herb – as a topical also and apparently have some good results with anal warts.
Gentian Violet - herb – has had some remarkable success in getting rid of warts, so it may work on anal warts – check with your health professional.
LIFESTYLE CHANGES to reduce anal wart outbreak of the HPV virus:
Alcohol and anal warts:
More than 1 standard alcoholic drink a week just about doubles the chance of developing anal warts.
Smoking and anal warts:
STOP SMOKING – Smoking increases the chance of developing anal warts by 500%
Home Removal of Anal Warts and Online HPV Anal Warts Treatment that Claim to Cure.
Never pick at anal warts, nor try to remove them by yourself, you could do a heck of a lot of damage to an area most people would rather keep safe. Also, scratching spreads the HPV virus.
I don’t believe anything is safe when it has to be potent enough to kill a wart. Certainly none would be safe in my opinion for internal use, nor would it be safe if you applied it yourself – even using mirrors would be difficult and likely lead to areas being destroyed or burned that shouldn’t be.
To quote from one source:
“…the online treatments for anal warts are dangerous because they don’t work and don’t educate about what anal warts are, possibly leaving the patient more contagious and still in danger. They aren’t effective in the least.
The only treatments that are effective are also so dangerous that they have to be applied by someone who knows what they are doing, which means a doctor. Even the creams and solutions that are applied over time can be at the least irritating to surrounding tissues, and might start causing injury if applied as many times as it takes to get rid of the warts.
I took some time out to research the online wart treatments… ” L.I. 2008
I don’t know if I agree with that or not, but to err on the side of caution, for the above reasons, I decided not to review anal wart treatments nor HPV treatments for self use, but to leave the treatment in the hands of health professionals.
If you wish to pursue using online HPV treatments aka anal wart treatments, there seems to be many advertised in the paid for advertising sections of search engines. If they are potent enough to kill a wart, having someone you can trust, maybe your spouse, apply the HPV treatment, may increase it’s usefulness and increase your level of safety.
Check the guarantee: Was it guaranteed to work or guaranteed you would get your money back if it didn’t work? NO ONE can guarantee a cure for the HPV virus nor for anal warts. Getting rid of an anal wart does NOT mean you are cured of getting anal warts again; NOR does it mean you are no longer HPV contagious – you probably still are HPV contagious, even if you have all the anal and genital warts removed.
You may never be sure you are cured of anal warts
In addition, even if the warts are surgically removed or go away by themselves, that does not mean that you are free from HPV infection.
HPV can lay dormant in cells for a long time between outbreaks, and you can still be contagious, so it pays to be honest with whomever you might be intimate.
In addition, remember that other people might not be honest, or they might not even know that they are infected, so always get bloodwork done for yourself and anyone you might be wanting to have children with.
HPV, while not the end of the world, is not a fun virus to have to put up with for life. There are cases where the viral load drops to such a point that it is no longer detectable by modern tests, but there is no confirmed cure.
Children can catch the disease from their parents, either during birth or through normal contact.
The HPV Vaccine
There is an HPV vaccine, called Gardisil, that has been approved by the FDA.
However, the HPV vaccine only works on a few strains of HPV, with a 70% chance of prevention against carcinogenic HPV and a 90% chance against wart-causing HPV strains.
Prevention of HPV and Genital / Anal Warts
The most effective method of preventing HPV and anal wars is avoiding skin to skin contact with someone who has been infected, but that isn’t always easy, as the virus can go unnoticed for quite some time.
Properly performed, male latex condom usage may limit the spread of the HPV virus, but it is not completely guaranteed.
If these warts are removed, that does not kill the HPV infection, which may still be lying dormant in otherwise unaffected cells. Some doctors will try injecting a drug called interferon right after wart removal, but there has been no benefit shown from this practice and the drug is rather expensive.
Living with the anal wart virus – HPV
Generally, if infected with HPV, the best course of action is to assume you’ll have it for life and act accordingly. Get tested every six months to see if the HPV virus is active, do not have unprotected sex, and do get any and all growths checked out. In addition, if female, it is even more important to get a yearly Pap smear to check for abnormal cervical cells instead of finding out, too late, that you have cervical cancer.
While in most cases, HPV can be managed so that it is no more than a minor annoyance, it is not an infection that can be treated at home. So, research everything you can about HPV, follow sound medical advice and be well.
Research and main write by Loni L. Ice, editing and additional writing by D. S. Urquhart.
(The above anal genital wart photo courtesy of SOA-AIDS of Amsterdam.)