Genital warts appear as small bumps or fleshy growth on the skin, specifically in or around the genital area or the anal area. Genital warts are easily transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. In men who are not circumcised, warts are often found on the penis, under the foreskin. They are also found in the urethra. Urethral warts are specifically found in the urethral area in males. In women, genital warts are found on the vulva, cervix, vaginal wall, and the skin around the vaginal area. Both genital and urethral warts are typically caused the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Genital and urethral warts often occur without any symptoms. However, in certain people, warts are typically associated with itching, burning pain, and discomfort. Warts typically appear within 1 to 6 months of being infected by the HPV. They appear as very small, soft, pink or grey colored growths.
Causes of Urethral Warts
Urethral warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus (HPV) is not just a single virus but an entire family of 100 different types of viruses. HPV is typically transmitted by skin to skin contact with an infected person, through anal, vaginal, and non-penetrative genital contact.
Different types of HPV affect different parts of the body. Some types of human papillomavirus cause common skin warts. There are around 30 different types of HPV that can affect the genital area. Genital warts are commonly classified as external genital warts, which are easily seen, and internal genital warts, which are not easily visible. The external genital warts are found in the genital and rectal areas and are caused by type 6 and 11 of the HPV. Types 16 and 18 of the HPV cause warts that are not easily visible in the genital area. The internal genital warts often have the tendency of developing into vaginal, anal, cervical, and rectal cancer.
Diagnosis of Urethral Warts
External warts are diagnosed by doctor’s evaluation whereas internal warts are diagnosed colposcopy. The warts inside the anus are often observed by using a proctoscope, which is a small plastic tube that is inserted inside the anus for observing the skin inside. If a male is facing problems in passing urine, the doctor might examine the urethra.
Treatment of Urethral Warts
The immune system of the infected person plays an important role in the treatment of warts. If the immune system of the infected person is weak, then treatment is required and there are chances that the warts would return. External warts are often treated by using laser or electric current commonly known as electrocautery. Cryotherapy (or freezing) and surgery are often required for the treatment of warts. An alternate approach involves the application of podophyllin toxin, trichloroacetic acid, imiquimod, or sinecatechins directly on the warts. However, this process requires months or weeks of application and at times, does not even yield satisfactory results.
For urethral warts, endoscopes with surgical attachments are used for surgically removing them. This process requires the use of a general anesthetic. In urethral warts, drugs such as Thiotepa are inserted in the urethra. The chemotherapy drug-5, flourouracil, is also injected directly into the urethral wart. Interferon-alpha injections are also used to cure warts.
- “Human Papillomavirus Infection and Genital Warts: Update on Epidemiology and Treatment” by Katherine M. Stone. Published in 1995, Volume 20, Issue Supplement 1 of the Oxford Journals for Clinical Infectious Diseases, accessed on 18 May 2015. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/clinids/20.Supplement_1.S91