Definition: what are genital warts? Condyloma or genital warts, are mild skin lesions in the genital area. They are caused by the papilloma virus or HPV. They are the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) after chlamydia. Around 30 million people are carries of the virus. Genital warts mainly appear at the beginning of sexual activity. Types of genital warts: There are three distinguishable type of genital warts. - condyloma acuminata: these are budding lesions located in the vulva, anus or penis areas. This is then known as “cockerel’s crest which are small, slightly pinkish or whitish lumps. - papular condyloma: these are skin coloured or pinkish papules (dry knobs without liquid). In case of profusion, it’s known as Bowenoid papulosis. - flat condyloma: these warts are most often invisible to the naked eye but can appear in the form of red or pink spots. They are feared because the risk of contamination is higher and can also cause cervical cancer. Transmission of genital warts The papilloma virus, responsible for genital warts, is very contagious. It is transmitted through direct contact like sexual intercourse. An indirect transmission by clothes or contaminated material is also possible. This is because the virus is relatively resistant to environmental conditions. Treatment of genital warts Genital warts can be treated with creams and locally applied products like podophyllotoxin for a few weeks. But be careful, it’s important to stick to the doctor’s prescription because it is an extremely irritating product. If medical treatment isn’t enough to get rid of genital warts, surgical treatment is also possible. Cryotherapy involves freezing off the warts with an application of liquid nitrogen. Many sessions are necessary to completely get rid of the lesions. Genital warts can also be removed with a CO2 laser or by electrocoagulation with electrocautery. These two methods need a local or general anaesthetic depending on the specific case. It should be noted that it is imperative to always use a condom during sexual intercourse throughout treatment to reduce the risks of contamination. In women, a regular smear test is advised.