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Anogenital wart

Author: Jane Morgan MB ChB MRCP FACSHP, Sexual Health Physician, Hamilton, New Zealand, 2003. Updated by Hon A/Prof Amanda Oakley, September 2015. Revised February 2021

Anogenital wart — codes and concepts

What is ananogenitalwart?

An anogenital wart is a common superficial skinlesionin the anogenital area caused by specific human papillomavirus (HPV) types. Anogenital warts are also called condyloma acuminatum,genitalwarts, and venereal warts.

What causes anogenital warts?

Anogenital warts are aninfectioncaused by specific human papillomavirus types, most commonly HPV types 6 and 11. Warts will usually appear three to six months after infection but they may appear months or even years later. Anogenital warts are usually asexually transmitted infection(STI).

What is a human papillomavirus?

Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are a large family of species-specific related double-strandedDNAviruses.

  • There are more than 150 different HPV types; at least 40 can infect the anogenital area. Other types causewartson other areas of skin.
  • At least 75% of sexually active adults have been infected with at least one type of anogenital HPV at some time in their life.
  • HPV infectskeratinocytesin the skin andepithelialcells inmucosaand stimulates them to proliferate, causing a visible lesion.
  • HPV infection can belatent, notdevelopinginto visible warts. Subclinical infection may show up on acervicalsmear.
  • Some HPV types cause anogenitalcancer. These types are also contagious.

Who gets anogenital warts?

As anogenital warts are usually sexually acquired, they are most commonly observed in young adults between the ages of 15 and 30 years. [seeSexually acquired human papillomavirus] They are highly contagious. However, anogenital warts are rare in people who have been vaccinated against thebenignHPV types in childhood before beginning sexual activity. Anogenital warts have been reported in a number of studies to be more common in males than females.

Patients who areimmunocompromiseddue to drug-induced immunosuppression orHIVinfectionare at particular risk of acquiring HPV and developing anogenital warts.

Anogenital warts can also affect infants and young children. The virus may be acquired during birth or from the hands of carers.

How is HPV transmitted?

Visible anogenital warts and subclinical HPV infection nearly always arise from direct skin to skin contact.

  • Sexual contact. This is the most common way amongst adults.
  • Transmission is more likely from visible warts than from subclinical or latent HPV infection.
  • Oralsex. HPV appears to prefer the genital area to the mouth.
  • Vertical (mother to baby) transmission through the birth canal.
  • Auto (self)inoculationfrom one site to another.

What are the clinical features of anogenital warts?

An anogenital wart is a flesh colouredpapulewith a folded irregular surface a few millimetres in diameter. Warts may join together to formplaquesup to several centimetres across. Alinear可以看到,如果模式the virus has beeninoculatedalong a scratch or tear in the skin. Symptoms associated with anogenital warts can include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Itch
  • Embarrassment.

HPV infection may occur in the following anogenital sites:

  • Vulva
  • Vagina
  • Cervix
  • Urethra
  • Penis
  • Scrotum
  • Anus.

The same HPV types can also be found inlesionsaround the lips, the oral mucosa orconjunctiva. [seeSquamouscellpapilloma]

See images of genital warts...

What are the complications of anogenital warts?

Anogenital warts are contagious and spread particularly to sexual partners.

Anogenital warts can enlarge and multiply during pregnancy which may then interfere withvaginaldelivery. HPV can be transmitted to the baby resulting inrecurrentrespiratorypapillomatosisin the infant.

Anogenital warts can impact psychosexual functioning and quality of life. [seePsychosocialfactors indermatology]

How are anogenital warts diagnosed?

Anogenital warts are usually diagnosed clinically.

Skinbiopsyis sometimes necessary to confirm the diagnosis of viral wart, particularly if there is concern of anogenital cancer. [seeCondyloma acuminatumpathology]

In some circumstances, researchers and clinicians may wish to confirm the presence or absence of HPV. One commercially available qualitative test for HPV is the COBAS 4800 Human Papillomavirus (HrHPV) Test, which evaluates 14 high-risk (HRoncogenic) HPV types.

What is thedifferential diagnosisof anogenital warts?

Normal anatomical structures may be confused with warts. These include:

  • Pearlypapules(these are in a ring around the glans of the penis )
  • Sebaceouson thelabia(known as "Fordyce spots")
  • Vestibularpapillae(the fronds found in the opening to the vagina).

Seborrhoeickeratosesare often observed in the anogenital area of older adults.

Anogenitalsquamous cellcarcinomais an important differential diagnosis to consider as the high-risk and low-risk HPV types are both STIs and can be transmitted together.

What is the treatment for anogenital warts?

Prevention of HPV infection: Human papillomavirus vaccine

HPV vaccinationis most effective when offered at a young age, before the onset of sexual activity. However, girls who are already sexually active may not have been infected with the types of HPV covered by the vaccine and may still benefit from vaccination. Women who receive a HPV vaccine should continue to participate in cervical screening programmes.

HPV vaccines are also effective in boys. Vaccination of boys is recommended to reduce transmission of HPV to unvaccinated females. It also reduces theincidenceof cancers in males related to HPV infection.

Prevention of anogenital HPV transmission

Transmission of anogenital warts to a new sexual partner can be reduced but not completely prevented by using condoms. Condoms do not prevent all genital skin-to-skin contact, but they also protect against othersexually transmittedinfections.

Treatment options for anogenital warts

  • Self-applied treatments at home
  • Treatment at a doctor's surgery or medical clinic.


To be successful the patient must identify and reach the warts, and follow the application instructions carefully. Available treatments include:

Treatments provided at a medical clinic

What is the outcome of anogenital warts?

肛门-生殖器疣可以解决自发地或在response to treatment. Despite apparent resolution of anogenital warts, the virus canpersistin a latent or subclinical form.Recurrenceis therefore very common, particularly in males.

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  • Steben M. A very common intimate concern: "Will my genital warts ever stop recurring?". J Infect Dis. 2019;219(5):682-4. doi:10.1093/infdis/jiy610.Journal
  • Vela S, Videla S, Ornelas A, et al. Effectiveness of physically ablative and pharmacological treatments for anal condyloma in HIV-infected men. PLoS One. 2018;13(8):e0199033.PubMeddoi:10.1371/journal.pone.0199033
  • 沃纳RN, Westfechtel L,杜丝勒C, Nast A. Anogenital warts and other HPV-associated anogenital lesions in the HIV-positive patient: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of interventions assessed in controlled clinical trials. Sex Transm Infect. 2017;93(8):543-50. doi:10.1136/sextrans-2016-053035.PubMed

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