It’s easy to feel embarrassed (and even concerned) if you have anal warts, but the fact is, these small, fleshy growths are really common. Like genital warts, anal warts are caused by the humanpapillomavirus (HPV), a common family of viruses that infects millions of people every year.
At our practice in Coral Springs, Florida, Michael Tarlowe, MD, offers safe, effective treatments for anal warts, helping patients enjoy better health and confidence. If you have anal warts, here’s what you should know about their cause, symptoms, and treatment.
HPV is spread through skin-to-skin sexual contact involving the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. Even if you’ve never had anal intercourse, you can still develop anal warts.
Many anal warts are very small, but some can grow to about the size of a pea. Warts can grow alone or they can form cauliflower-like clusters, sometimes spreading from the anal area to your genitals.
Many people with anal warts don’t have symptoms and don’t even know they have them. When warts grow larger, they may cause irritation or other problems, like anal itching, bleeding, or mucus discharge.
Even if you don’t have these symptoms, you may still be able to feel the wart as a tiny lump in your anal area.
One of the first concerns people have is whether these warts are associated with cancer. The good news: Anal warts and genital warts are only rarely associated with an increased risk of cancer. Nearly all of these warts are benign.
That said, there are some strains of HPV that do significantly increase your risk of cancer, including anorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society says most squamous cell anal cancers are directly caused by HPV infection. Having anal warts treated promptly is important for reducing those risks, regardless of which strain of HPV is causing the infection.
Once the cancer concern is dealt with, most people focus on the appearance of the warts and how contagious they are. HPV is highly contagious, which means if you have anal warts, it’s very easy to pass on an infection to your partner.
The other concern — the warts’ appearance — can certainly take a toll on your confidence. The good news for both these concerns: Dr. Tarlowe offers treatments and guidance to eliminate warts and help prevent transmission of the virus.
Dr. Tarlowe offers several treatment options for anal warts, including:
It’s important to understand that removing warts doesn’t get rid of the viral infection. While the virus may become dormant for a period of time, it can “reactivate and cause warts in the future. If that happens, you’ll need additional treatments to eliminate them.
Because you’ll still be infected with HPV, you can also spread the virus to your sex partner via intercourse or oral sex. The CDC offers a list of simple steps to help prevent transmission of HPV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Bottom line: Anal warts are annoying, but in most cases, they’re not dangerous. Since a small subset of HPV types are associated with cancer, having anal warts promptly treated is very important for your health.
To learn more about anal warts and their treatment at our Coral Springs practice, call 954-256-1842 or book an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.