Genital warts are a common type of sexually transmitted infection that affects at least half of all the people who are sexually active. These can be described as a small soft fleshy growth sometimes bumps and/or skin changes that appear on the or close to the genital area. They are often confused with genital skin tags.
They are viral skin infections and are caused by some strains of the human papillomavirus (the low-risk HPV variant) and are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. About 1 million people are infected with genital warts yearly and these are caused by the HPV type 6 or type 11.
Genital warts can lead to pain, itching, discomfort, and women are mostly endangered because some HPV strains can cause cancer of the cervix and/or vulva. The warts are sometimes invisible to the eye. That is, they can be very small, flesh-colored or slightly darker. The top part of the genital wart’s growth may look like a cauliflower and may be smooth or bump-like when touched.
In males, warts may appear on the penis, scrotum, groin, thigh, inside or around the anus and in the urethra.
Similarly, it could be seen inside the vagina or anus, outside the vagina or anus, on the cervix, around the vulva and on the upper thighs in females.
Additionally, genital warts may also be seen on the lips, tongue, mouth or throat of a subject who is used to or has had oral sex with an infected partner.
Genital warts are usually painless but can be inflamed thereby causing itching and discomfort. They may also cause symptoms like vaginal discharge, redness, bleeding and burning sensation in or near the affected area.
Warts can as well cause pain/discomfort when they enlarge and spread. In most cases, HPV infections do not present any symptoms other than warts alone. Although no other physical symptoms occur, genital warts outbreak may lead to psychological distress (anxiety) in some subjects.
Causes of Genital Warts
HPV can be transmitted through penetrative or non-penetrative sex. It is less transmissible through the latter. However, evidence to explain the effect of condoms on HPV transmission has been conflicting which is believed to be gender dependent.
The classes of HPV that cause warts are highly transmissible. About three (3) out of four (4) partners of patients who are not affected with warts develop them in eight (8) months. Studies showed that the presence of visible warts can be a sign of increased infectivity. In couples where one partner presents with visible warts, the HPV concordance rate is known to be higher. HPV infection up to 90% can be cleared off the body of an infected person within two years of the previous infection.
However, infected cells can undergo latency in which case, the initial occurrence or a reoccurrence of symptoms is seen after some months or years. Asymptomatic latent HPV can still be transmitted to a sexual partner. The rate of transmission is about 70% after an unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner. Subjects with the history of HPV may present with new warts either from a new exposure or from a reoccurrence of the initial infection.
Prevention and Management of Genital Warts
Genital warts cure is achievable by pharmacological approach as well as by employing some home remedies. lt is known that the vaccine; Gardasil, marketed by Merck and Co is being used to prevent infection by the human papillomavirus types L6, 6,18, as well as type 11. HPV types 11 and 6 are the low-risk HPV types which precipitate genital warts whereas types 18 and 16 cause cervical cancer. The Merck vaccine is recommended to be used before exposure to any of the genital warts virus.
Gardasil is not therapeutic for HPV instead it is preventive. lt has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to prevent the progression of the human papillomavirus in both male and female.
There are different treatment modalities with which genital warts could be eradicated. Depending on the nature of the.infection, the infection can disappear within some period of time without any treatment. Evidence from studies carried out about HPV infections have stated that HPV cannot be cured. However, treatments are directed towards the eradication of visible warts which sometimes are capable of disappearing in the absence of therapy. No study has proved that removing the visible growth will reduce the transmission of existing HPV infection. Body clearance of the infection may occur in 80% of infected subjects within 18 months.
Depending on the size of warts in the affected part, number, location, and other factors, a health practitioner may provide have some approach to get rid of them but this may lead to de-pigmentation, scar formation, and itching.
Treatment for this infection is either done by using topical agents, home remedies or by physical ablation. The latter is known to be more effective for removing initial infection but the recurrence rate is high.
This method is known to be more effective for treating keratinized warts and is usually used in patients with fewer numbers of smaller warts.
- Scissors can be used for excision under local anesthesia.
- Liquid nitrogen cryosurgery can be done on a weekly basis.
- Electro-cauterization also known as loop electrical excision procedure is as well considered effective.
- Laser ablation, though less effective, can be employed as a last line treatment option.
- Surgery by specialists.
Topical agents can be used externally to manage genital warts. These include but are not limited to:
- 0.15-0.5% podophyllotoxin marketed as Condylox(0.5%), Wartec (0.15%) and Warticon (0.15%)
- Imiquimod (Aldara), a topical immune response cream. This is to be used on the affected area.
- Sinecatechins marketed as Veregen and Polyphenon E. It has a higher clearance rate than podophyllotoxin and imiquimod. Clearance usually takes longer time than with imiquimod but it causes less irritation.
- Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is less effective than cryosurgery. This is not recommended for use in the vagina, cervix and in the urinary meatus.
- Interferon can be used to treat warts, though it has an inconsistent effect.
Apple Cider for Genital Warts
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is popularly used as a home remedy for genital warts treatment and it is highly effective. It elicits an antiviral effect that kills the virus while eradicating the abnormal skin growth. This ability is often likened to that of salicylic acid which is why it is also used to treat other types of warts.
Remove Genital Warts with Apple Cider Vinegar: FAQs
Can apple cider vinegar get rid of warts?
Generally, apple cider vinegar works by burning and destroying the skin infected by a virus, thus, causing the removal of warts. Vinegar, after all, is acetic acid. So, it does kill certain types of bacteria and viruses. It works similarly to the way salicylic acid functions. And as you may know, salicylic acid is also found in topical creams that are used to treat genital warts. The irrigation from the vinegar also stimulates the ability of the immune system to eliminate warts.
Is apple cider vinegar safe?
ACV, in general, is safe. In fact, it has long been included in the list of natural remedies to treat different types of ailments including common warts. However, it is important to note that there is very little scientific evidence to back the claims involving its effectiveness in treating genital warts even when its effect is highly comparable to that of salicylic acid. Also, ACV can easily be misused, resulting in burns or allergic reactions.
How do you remove genital warts using apple cider vinegar?
You may use ACV to remove warts but do so with caution. Follow the steps below as directed, and if any reaction occurs, please discontinue using ACV.
Steps to Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Removing Genital Warts
- Apply petroleum jelly to protect the unaffected area around warts
- Use the moistened cotton ball to apply apple cider vinegar on the affected area;
- Hold the cotton ball in place for two to three hours with adhesive tape (bandage or duct tape);
- Remove the cotton and wash the area using warm water;
- Repeat the above process after one hour;
- Treatment should be done two to three times daily for some days until warts disappear.
- Drinking the diluted apple cider vinegar solution is also beneficial to an infected person.
Other remedies for genital warts include the use of hydrogen peroxide, garlic, Aloe Vera, castor oil, tree tea oil, and onion. Learn more about them below:
- The natural astringent properties of hydrogen peroxide make it an effective treatment for genital warts. The recommended application is to dilute a 35% food-grade hydrogen peroxide with water before applying it to the genital area 3 to 5 times daily for about a week or two.
- Garlic extract is another alternative. It contains allicin which has antimicrobial properties that can kill different types of viruses. If you can’t find any garlic extract near you, just mix garlic, and oil and that should do.
- Along with garlic, onion is another kitchen ingredient you can use to treat genital warts. There are two ways to do it. You can slice some onion, place it on the affected area, and cover with gauze. For better and faster results, mix about two slices of onions with a teaspoon of salt then juice it before applying it on your skin. Use twice or thrice a day.
- As for aloe vera, the combination of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent home remedy for genital warts. Take one of its fleshy leaves and apply the pulp directly to the affected area for about a week.
- Castor oil is another home remedy with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used alone or with baking soda to treat genital warts. This combination is known to dry out warts and break its cell clusters.
- Another essential oil you can use is tea tree oil. Mix a drop of tea tree with a carrier oil before applying it to the wart. Note that tea tree oil can be irritating and may even cause allergic reactions. So, make sure you’re not allergic to it before using it on your warts.
Final Thoughts on Apple Cider for Genital Warts
Genital warts infection can be a more serious and complicated infection if not properly treated. Uninfected patients should abstain from things that can predispose one to such infection (unprotected sex and others) and practice good hygiene to prevent disease onset. Always consult a doctor if any of its symptoms are noticed.