What are the Symptoms of Genital Warts?

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  • Written By: K. Gierok
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Some of the most common symptoms of genital warts include swelling in the genital area, wart clusters and irritation of the genitals. Bleeding in the infected area is common as well. Symptoms often are triggered by high levels of stress or the onset of another illness that weakens the immune system. A consultation with a qualified primary care physician skilled in treating this disorder generally is necessary for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

One of most common symptoms of genital warts includes unusual swelling in the genital area. Though it may take up to two to three months for the swelling associated with genital warts to develop, once the swelling does occur, it typically is accompanied by small, flesh-colored bumps that are raised and have a slightly grayish appearance. It is important to understand that while swelling is a very common symptom of genital warts, this particular symptom may not be triggered until pregnancy or high levels of stress cause an outbreak.


Another one of the common symptoms of genital warts includes wart clusters. These are typically small growths that are slightly fleshy and are usually clustered together. Often, these wart clusters have the appearance of small trees or cauliflower bundles. Over time, the wart clusters often increase in number and size, though they may just as often decrease in size and become dormant. Most often, wart clusters appear on the surface of the penis and scrotum in men, and on the vulva or labia in women.

Irritation of the genital area is also one of the common symptoms of genital warts. The irritation associated with genital warts is most commonly associated with an increased amount of itching in the affected areas and can also cause slight soreness. As in the case of wart clusters, genital irritation in men is typically found around the penis, though it can also be found on the testicles, in the rectal area, and even on the thighs. Women most often experience genital irritation in the vulva, the rectal area, and around the thighs.

Bleeding also is included among the symptoms of genital warts. This is one of the earliest symptoms and typically occurs only where the skin is actively infected. This symptom occurs most often in women and is typically described as light bleeding that occurs between periods. Often, it is one of the primary reasons that women seek medical assistance.


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Human papillomavirus causes genital warts. Genital warts are not curable. The CDC says that the virus that causes human papillomavirus is very contagious and that everyone will acquire the virus at some point in their lifetime, even if they only have one sexual partner. Human papillomaviruses are the causes of genital warts.

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