If you have anal warts, you might be too embarrassed to talk about them. But guess what? Ignoring them could put you at increased risk for certain cancers — and it can certainly increase the risk that you’ll pass them on to someone else.
There’s something else you should know about anal warts: They’re not uncommon. And while they can’t be completely cured (yet), they can be managed effectively with the right medical treatments.
Michael H. Tarlowe, MD, is top-rated proctology specialist, offering multiple anal wart treatment for patients in Deerfield Beach, Florida. If you have anal warts, or if you suspect you might have them, here’s why early evaluation is so important.
The basics of anal warts
Like other genital warts, anal warts are caused by infection with the human papillomavirus or HPV, a family of more than 100 viruses. HPV is by far the most common type of sexually transmitted infection, infecting more than 40 million Americans every year, on average.
HPV infections can affect anyone who’s sexually active, regardless of age. Most HPV infections clear up on their own, usually causing no symptoms. But a very small number go on to cause long-term problems, including genital and anal warts.
Many people think they can’t have anal warts because they’ve never had anal intercourse. But you don’t need to have anal intercourse to develop anal warts. Exposure to sexual fluids from an infected person can also cause anal wart infection.
Signs and symptoms
In their initial stages, anal warts are tiny — sometimes as small as the tip of a pencil point or the head of a pin. Over time, they can spread, and individual warts can grow much larger.
Pinkish, brownish, or flesh-colored, anal warts often cause no pain or discomfort. If they grow or spread, though, you might have symptoms like itching, bleeding, or a mucus discharge around the anus. You may also feel a lump near your anus.
Diagnosing anal warts requires a physical exam of the anal area and the perineum (the area between the anus and the genitals). In most cases, a special scope is also used to check for warts or lumps inside the anus.
Why treatment is so important
The same HPV infections that cause warts also increase the risk of anal cancer. That means that removing warts is important not just for your self-confidence, but for your health, too. In fact, the American Cancer Society says that the number of people with anal cancer is increasing, and so are anal cancer-related deaths.
Dr. Tarlowe offers different treatment options for anal warts, depending on the size of the warts, if they’ve spread, and other factors. Some warts may be controlled with topical medications applied directly to the warts. Using these medicines exactly as prescribed is essential for controlling warts — and that means applying the medicine for as long as directed, even if the warts seem to have “disappeared.”
For other warts, Dr. Tarlowe may use a special acid to destroy the wart. Acid applications are done right in the office, and there’s no downtime afterward. For larger warts, surgical removal may be necessary.
No matter what treatment you have, it’s very important to know that even though the warts may go away, the virus is still there, which means the warts could come back and require treatment again. It also means you might need to take additional steps to prevent spreading the infection to your partner.
Don’t ignore anal warts
Talking about anal warts may feel embarrassing or uncomfortable, but remember: Dr. Tarlowe is a proctology specialist with years of experience in diagnosing and treating warts. Delaying treatment simply because it feels a little “awkward” allows your risk of anal cancer to continue to increase over time.
Your anal warts are a medical problem that requires medical attention — just like any other health issue. To learn how we can help you treat your anal warts and reduce your risk of cancer, call 954-256-1842 or book an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.