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Anal Warts

Anal warts (condylomata acuminata) are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted disease. Warts affect the area around and inside the anus and first appear as tiny spots or growths but can grow quite large and cover the entire anal area.

Sexual intercourse or anoreceptive sex are the most common ways to get infected with HPV. However, a person can become infected with HPV without having penetration. Women can get anal warts because of the proximity to the vagina. Any direct contact with the anal area (e.g., hand contact, fluids from an infected sexual partner) can cause HPV and warts. Warts are usually painless, so people may not realize they have them. The primary symptoms are soft, moist bumps near or in the anus that are light brown or flesh-colored.


If warts are not removed, they can grow large and multiply. Left untreated, warts may lead to an increased risk of anal cancer. Treatment options include:

  •   Topical medications: These creams usually work best if the warts are small and located only on the skin around the anus.
  •   Topical medications that will burn the warts (e.g., bichloracetic acid)
  •   Surgery: When the warts are either too large for effective topical treatment or are internal, surgery is recommended.

Warts may come back repeatedly after successful removal. This happens because the HPV virus stays inactive for a period of time in body tissues. It is important to schedule follow-up visits so that if they recur, they can be treated while small and easier to manage.

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