How can anal warts be treated?
Anal warts are growths that appear around the anus or inside it, caused by the HPV virus.
Anal warts are often small and do not cause discomfort. This is why initially they can go unnoticed. But when they increase in size and number, they can cause itching and bleeding.
The specialist can diagnose anal warts through a physical examination. The doctor may also perform a High-Resolution Anoscopy (HRA) to better evaluate the lesions and to perform a biopsy.
The specialist will then suggest the most suitable treatment based on the number and position of the warts. If left untreated, anal warts can heal spontaneously, not change or increase in number or size.
The most common treatments for anal warts are:
When the warts are few and small, the doctor can recommend a specific cream to use for a few weeks.
If the warts are many and of medium size, they can often be removed in outpatient through different techniques:
- cryotherapy: this consists in freezing off the warts by means of very low temperatures.
- laser treatment: this consists in burning the warts through the use of a laser scalpel.
- electro-cauterization: this consists in burning the warts through the use of a specific electric tip.
- surgical ablation: this consists in removing the warts by means of a specific electric scalpel.
Thanks to the use of new technologies, the electro-cauterization and ablation of warts can now be performed during High-Resolution Anoscopy.
High-Resolution Anoscopy can also be used for biopsies. During the examination, it is in fact possible to take tissue samples with a special biopsy brush.
In the case of large warts which do not respond to treatment, surgery can be used. If the number, size or position of the warts causes excessive pain, the surgeon can evaluate the use of general or spinal anaesthesia during surgery.
Anal warts: what to do after treatment
After removing the warts, the patient may experience discomfort or pain in the treated area. In this case the surgeon may prescribe painkillers for a few days. Many people do not know that as the HPV virus remains in the body, it can cause the re-onset of the warts even after their removal. Both outpatient and surgical procedures may require multiple sessions. For this reason, in the first months after treatment, it is important to undergo regular check-ups.
Both HPV and anal warts are transmitted by simple contact with the skin. This means that you can be a carrier of the HPV virus without having any visible warts. Similarly, complete removal of the warts does not ensure the disappearance of the HPV virus from the body.