Medically Reviewed by Dr. Elisabeth Vincent Hamelin
What is condyloma acuminatum?
Sharp warts, also called anogenital warts or, popularly, ” cockscombs ”, are particular forms of warts (see Warts tab) caused by a virus and transmitted mostly, but not only, through sexual intercourse. They are much more contagious than other forms of warts.
How they manifest
Sharp warts generally appear 2-3 months after sexual intercourse with a person suffering from the disease, but the time interval can be even longer. They can appear anywhere in the anogenital area, but are more frequent on the penis or at the entrance to the vagina. They appear as small lesions, soft, dotted and slotted, pinkish in color. They develop rapidly forming a kind of foot from which they hang and gather in groups that give them the appearance of a cauliflower. In some cases, however, it is difficult to notice their presence and they are so small as to require the use of a magnifying glass. They develop particularly quickly during pregnancy. Like other forms of warts they can also disappear spontaneously. Normally they are not painful but can also cause intense itching.
What are the risks
The risk posed by an ineffective treatment of warts is the spread of the infection to people with whom you have sex. It also appears that there may be a relationship between the virus responsible for the infection and cancer of the uterine cervix (mouth of the uterus). This always recommends that you conduct an early treatment of warts.
What should be done
- The treatments available include: the use of drugs (based on podophyllin or imiquimod) to be applied locally and active, with different mechanisms, on the warts; the use of cryosurgery, that is, the warts are destroyed by applying very cold substances; laser therapy and surgical removal.
- All these forms of treatment should be recommended and followed by the doctor. In particular, products containing podophyllin are not to be used by pregnant women. All people with whom you have had sexual relations should be treated; therefore it is important to communicate this illness to your partner.
- It may be necessary to repeat the treatment several times before being able to eradicate the infection.
- Do not use the so-called “bruciaporri” which contain highly corrosive substances, especially if applied to delicate areas such as the genital organs.
- As with other forms of warts it is important not to touch or scratch the wart to avoid spreading it to other parts of the body.
- Refrain from sexual intercourse until complete recovery, which must be established by the doctor, or use a condom avoiding direct contact of the sexual organs throughout the relationship.
- Because of the relationship between warts and cervical cancer, it is important that every woman who has been ill with warts performs a specific examination (Pap test or smear) that allows to reveal a possible tumor in its initial phase and, therefore, to be able to intervene with suitable care.