Genital Warts

Genital Warts

Public Health Fact Sheet

What are Genital Warts?
Genital Warts are a viral, sexually transmitted disease. They are caused by several types of the human papilloma virus (HPV). Most sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives.

How Genital Warts spread?
Genital Warts are spread during oral, anal or vaginal sex or other intimate skin-to-skin contact with someone who has genital warts.  Genital Warts can also be spread from one place to another on the same person’s body (auto-inoculation).

How are Genital Warts treated?
There are several treatments available for Genital Warts. All of them remove the visible warts, but the virus will remain in the body and the person may continue to have recurrences of the warts.  Some common treatments include applying salicylic acid, cryotherapy (freezing the area), and laser therapy.

Can Genital Warts be prevented?
  • If you choose to have sex, be prepared. Have condoms with a water-based lubricant available and use a new condom every time.
  • Limit the number of sexual partners you have. 
  • Have regular exams if you are sexually active. If you think you have genital warts, get checked.
  • A pap smear, for women, is an excellent test to look for HPV changes on the cervix.  Having annual pap smears can reduce the long-term complications associated with HPV infection.
  • A vaccine is available to prevent infection from the 9 most common types of HPV. It is available for males and females. 
Additional information is available on the CDC website at
Symptoms of Genital Warts

  • Small bumps with an irregular, "cauliflower-like" surface
  • Itching, pain, or even bleeding of the bumps

February 2020