Treating Anal Warts

Anal warts (condyloma acuminata) are thought to be caused by the human papilloma virus which is a virus that can be transmitted via direct contact from person to person. Anal warts affect the area around the anus and may also affect the skin of the genital area. These warts need to be removed and can become more numerous and even cancerous if left untreated.

Options

Medications can be administered by the doctor to control very small warts located on the skin around the anus. Internal warts usually need to be treated by cauterization or surgical removal. Methods that can be used to treat anal warts include:

  • Electrocautery
  • Surgical Excision
  • Cryotheraphy

Electrocautery

The cautery and excision process can usually be performed on an outpatient basis and cause discomfort for only a few days. It involves burning the warts with a low-voltage probe that is electrified. Electrocautery can be used to treat warts that are present on or around the anus, on the penis or on the vulva. One benefit of using electrocautery is that it removes the warts with little blood loss. Also, warts are less likely to come back after electrocautery than after medicinal treatment. The removal of genital warts does cure a human papillomavirus infection.

Risks

Some risks of electrocautery include (usually minimal) blood loss, infections and pain.

Surgical Excision

Surgical excision involves excising the warts off with a scalpel. The procedure is most often done in the doctors office or in an outpatient center. You will be given medicine to numb the area surrounding the warts and sutures will be used to close the incisions.

Full healing takes two to four weeks but most people can return to normal activities within one to three days. Scarring is always a possibility. You should call your doctor if you experience a fever, severe pain, foul smelling or yellow-ish discharge or if you experience bleeding lasting more than one week.

Intercourse should be avoided for one to three weeks. And even a person treated for anal warts can continue to be contagious. Surgical excision does not necessarily cure an HPV infection. The virus can live in the body in an inactive state even after the removal of the warts.

Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy may be done when warts are growing in a small area (especially around the anus) and is not used when warts are widespread.

With cryotherapy the doctor will apply liquid nitrogen to and around the warts. The tissue is frozen and then is allowed to thaw and is then frozen again if needed. This depends on the size and thickness of the warts. Up to three treatments may be needed. Warts that affect the urethra or anus usually require the most treatments because the warts may be far inside the opening.

The procedure is usually done in the doctor’s office or clinic and recovery time is dependent upon the location and number of warts removed.

Possible side effects may include soreness, mild pain, irritation, swelling, scarring, shedding of dead tissue, and the formation of sores or blisters.

Call the doctor if you experience a fever, yellowish discharge, continued pain, or bleeding. Avoid intercourse until the area has healed and you have no more soreness.

Cryotheraphy can remove warts but not completely cure a human papillomavirus infection.