The Silent Epidemic
Everything You Need to Know About Male Genital Warts (HPV)
We call male genital warts the silent epidemic for three reasons. First, HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives (source cdc.gov.) With 1 in 100 males having active genital warts at any given time.(source cdc.gov.)
Second, if a man contracts genital warts, many will be reluctant to discuss it with their partner or closest friends. Many more are too embarrassed or afraid to go to the doctor and experiment with home remedies instead.
Third, it is difficult to see and has few symptoms. They can easily hide in pubic hair, under the foreskin, and in body folds. Sexual partners often spread it without even knowing.
Our goal in this article is to give you all the answers you need about genital warts. This includes what people want to know most, how to get rid of your genital warts. There are treatments that work! This is firsthand knowledge, gained from treating thousands of men with genital warts in person and through online consultation.
How we Discovered the Silent Epidemic of Male Genital Warts for Ourselves
We are the FixWarts.com team: Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Blake Galler and Steven Leon MS, PA-C. Our mission is to bring a highly effective, new generation of compounded prescription wart remover directly to people through online consultation. It has a 95% cure rate in 1-2 weeks. When we began seeing patients online, we expected to see the same types of warts that we did in the clinic, 95% regular warts (plantar warts, hand warts, etc) and 5% genital warts. We got a big surprise.
Instead of 5% male genital wart patients that we saw in the clinic, 95% of our patients online were men with genital warts. This means there is a large number of men with genital warts out there and they are more comfortable with an online consultation than an in-person visit.
This surprised both of us confirmes the embarrassment and psychological trauma many men experience with this underestimated disease.
Male Genital Warts and Anal Warts
Genital warts can form in two locations. The first is the “front side”, which we refer to as male genital warts. This is the penis, scrotum, and groin. The second location is the anus, which are referred to as anal warts.
Anal warts are more complicated to treat and require an in-person exam. Anal warts also have a small chance of turning cancerous over time, especially if you are HIV positive.
If you have these types of warts you should seek out a colorectal specialist who specializes in treating anal warts. Don’t be afraid to call the office and describe your situation. Trust me, they have heard it before. Here is a good place to begin https://fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/anal-warts
The Heavy Emotional Toll of Genital Warts in Men
Most people are unaware of the heavy emotional, social, and psychological toll of genital warts. Few talk about their experiences. Whether you are feeling a sense of disgust with your own body or the stress not knowing how long your genital warts will last or the despair of failed treatments you are not alone.
This diagram from a study done in 2010 by BMC Public Health depicts all the ways genital wart sufferers are affected. Understanding the psychological effect that any disease and learning to cope with it is always important. This subject will be covered in-depth in a future blog post. Getting rid of your genital warts is the only way to move on. More on that in the treatment section.
The Most Common Questions or Patients Ask
What causes genital warts?
Genital warts are caused by the HPV virus. As we mentioned in the introduction, if you have sex, you will likely contract the HPV virus with about 1% of men having active genital warts at any given time.
Male genital warts can form in any place where there is sexual contact. Certain strains of HPV cause genital warts but are not know to cross over onto non-genital areas. You do not see the transfer from the penis warts spread to the hands, for example.
HPV is an opportunistic virus. If it breaks through the skin barrier and your body can’t fight it off, you will get an outbreak.
Are genital warts the sign of a weak immune system?
The human immune system is nowhere near perfect. We get colds, we get bacterial infections and we get warts. If you have an unusually stubborn or severe case of warts and think you may have been exposed to HIV, you should be tested.
If you are constantly getting sick, and you develop a bad case of genital warts, definitely bring that to the attention of your doctor. If you’re healthy you just need to treat the warts.
Are Genital Warts in my blood? Is that why I keep getting more? Will I be dealing with genital warts my whole life??
They are not inside your body, they are on your skin and your sexual partner’s skin. With proper treatment and re-treatment if necessary, your current outbreak can be over in a few weeks to a few months. They can be active (a genital wart you can see and feel) or not active.
Genital herpes, another common STD, is in your body forever and can become active from time to time especially when you are under stress.
Many people have bad cases of male genital warts that last for years and lose all hope. With proper treatment and re-treatment if necessary, genital warts are not a chronic long term problem. They are an episodic problem. You treat them, the episode ends, and you can move on with life.
The Three Steps to Becoming Wart Free
- Destroy all warts you have, the faster the better, because they can spread. The prescription compounded medication we give to our patients kills genital warts in about 1 wk. Most other medications or treatments, besides surgical removal, have low success rates with months o treatment time. This allows warts to continue to spread in a cycle that can go on for years.
- After you have destroyed all visible warts, inspect yourself every week for new ones. We have a step by step guide on our post: Inspect your Package: How to Inspect Yourself for Genital Warts
- Destroy any new warts immediately so they do not restart the cycle of infection. This can easily be done with our compounded medication your medicine cabinet!. Waiting for an appointment at the doctor when new genital warts come up can allow them time to spread.
By following these three steps your genital wart outbreak will end. In the future, a new outbreak may start. Just as you cannot completely prevent yourself from getting a new cold. There are many strains of genital warts that you may contract.
Can male genital warts cause cancer?
Anal warts definitely can cause cancer. Many cases of HPV contracted through oral sex can as well. HPV associated cancer caused by penis warts is extremely low (800). Oral sex can transmit HPV to the mouth and throat. It actually causes the highest rates of all HPV related cancer in men. HIV, especially if poorly controlled, can definitely increase HPV related cancer. Below is a breakdown from the CDC
What about the HPV vaccine?
This vaccine was introduced in 2006 and targets most cancer-causing HPV strains as well as many that just cause genital warts. The vaccine is currently recommended. If you are under 26. If you are over 26 it can be considered on a case by case basis. By age 26 most sexually active adults have been exposed to many strains of HPV already.
Treatment: That Really Works
If you want to really know how people feel about their male genital warts, just look under these popular search terms from google: “Get rid of my genital warts”, “eliminate my genital warts”, “cure my genital warts”, and my personal favorite, “napalm my warts.” There is no love lost here.
Luckily there are two highly effective treatments that do get rid of your warts fast. There are also many that are not highly effective. Let’s go through your options.
Highly Effective Treatments
Compounded Prescription Wart Remover with salicylic acid and 5-Fluorouracil: This is the best choice for most of our patients with a 95% cure rate in one week or less. It gets rid of genital warts fast. It cannot be used on anal warts but can be used on the penile wart, warts on the scrotum, or anywhere in the groin.
It is virtually pain-free and works fast. This allows you not only to get rid of warts you have fast but also to treat any new ones that occur before they can spread. The video below describes the unique way in which this medication works.
We are the only experts in the use of compounded wart removers and have published peer-reviewed articles to prove it. You can learn more about this medication by going to the Our Medication Page. For a more in-depth explanation visit our blog post The Next Generation of Prescription Wart Remover is Here!
Surgical Removal: This is when a medical provider uses an electric cautery heat cautery, scalpel, or laser to destroy the wart. It requires a numbing injection. Yes, the shots hurt. If your medical provider is nice, they will use topical numbing medication first, which greatly reduces the pain of the shot. If you have extensive warts, a general anesthetic is sometimes used.
These procedures work most of the time but failures and recurrences do occur. Scarring can also occur. Doing weekly self-exams after treatment you warts is important to catch any new ones early before they can spread.
If a new one does occur, hopefully, either you or your doctor will detect it before it has a chance to spread.
Freezing: Freezing genital warts at home or at the doctor’s office is not very effective. The wart turns white, it hurts, it blisters or at least turns red, but most of the time it is not cured.
In fact, studies show that it works no better than a placebo. Freezing is not precise enough to destroy the entire wart. Warts are like tumors; if they are not entirely destroyed, they grow right back.
Insurance usually covers freezing. Most medical providers know how to do it, but if it doesn’t work the first time, move to a more highly effective treatment.
OTC wart freeze products are sometimes successful but are very weak. If you have a few small warts they may be worth trying.
Not Very Effective with Long Treatment Times
Topical Rx medications: Aldara (Imiquimod), Veregen, Podofilox: While these medications can work for some, few people are happy with the experience or the results. You typically have to use them for at least one to three months, and they can be very irritating to sensitive genital skin. If you are very consistent and are in no rush to get rid of your warts, these could be worth a try.
Our mission at FixWarts.com is to educate men about all aspects of male genital warts, to teach you the basics of the disease, to understand it, and how it spreads.
The definition of a trap is something that is easy to get into and hard to get out of. This pretty much describes male genital warts. Luckily, there is a way out of this trap.
Kill all your warts, inspect yourself regularly, and treat any new ones as soon as they occur. Make sure your partner gets an exam and treatment if necessary as well
Yes, genital warts are embarrassing and many men put off treatment. Telemedicine offers a much more comfortable experience for men with genital warts.
At FixWarts.com we make it easy to get the most effective prescription medication available, without the embarrassment of going to the doctor’s office. Now you can get rid of your warts in the privacy of your own home and have medicine on hand should new warts occur.
Dr. Blake Galler is a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of FixWarts.com. He was trained at Brooke Army Medical Center. After spending eight years in the Army, He now works as a dermatologist serving our veterans at the VA hospital in Anchorage Alaska.
Steven Leon MS, PA-C, is the founder of FixWarts.com is a dermatology physician assistant with 15 years of experience and 17 nationally published articles. He Currently practices at Dermatology and Laser Center of Simi Valley.