Treatment and Prevention
Anal warts are treated either by surgical removal, procedures like cryotherapy and laser or by application of drugs. Prevention is by using a vaccine to avoid spread of the HPV virus.
Sometimes, anal warts may disappear without treatment. They may be treated either surgically, by procedures that locally destroy the warts or with medications. The decision on which treatment should be used in a patient depends on the location, size and extent of the warts, whether the patient would prefer to be treated at home or at the clinic, as well as the physician and patient’s choice.
- Warts that are few in number and have a narrow stalk may be removed surgically after using a local anesthetic.
These are procedures that destroy warts. These include -
- Cryotherapy – In this procedure, warts are frozen with liquid nitrogen.
- Laser treatment
Drugs are applied locally to destroy warts. These include -
- Trichloroacetic acid – It has to be applied by the doctor with a cotton swab. It causes initial burning. It is inexpensive and effective. However, it needs repeated trips to the doctor’s office.
- Podophyllin, Podofilox and Podophyllotoxin – Podophyllotoxin is more effective than podophyllin and can be applied by the patient at home.
- Imiquimod – Imiquimod increases the patient’s immunity and help in healing. The chances of the warts coming back are rare with this drug, however it is more expensive than the other local treatments. The patient may apply it at home.
Some drugs may be given orally. However, they may cause side effects and are used only for severe cases. These include –
- 5 – Fluorouracil
Warts do not appear all at one time. The physician may notice new ones appearing during treatment. Also, the same warts may recur after treatment. Repeated examinations are needed to make sure that the patient is completely treated. The patient’s sexual partner should preferably be examined for warts as well.
Prevention of warts
Anal warts may be partly prevented by use of a condom during sexual intercourse. A vaccine has been approved to prevent genital warts and cancers caused by HPV. It is administered to men and women between the ages of 9 and 26 years. It should preferably be administered before a person becomes sexually active since it prevents the spread of HPV virus but does not prevent warts or cancer from developing in a patient who already harbors the virus.
- Thappa DM, Senthilkumar M, Laxmisha C. Anogenital Warts – An Overview. Indian J Sex Transm Dis 2004; 25 (2): 55-66.
- Pfenninger JL, Zainea GG. Common Anorectal Conditions: Part II. Lesions. American Family Physician 2001; 64 (1): 77-88.
- Maw R, Geo von Krogh. The management of anal warts. BMJ 2000; 321: 910-11.