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Anal warts, or condyloma, are a type of genital wart that are found either inside or around the anus. While anal warts can be uncomfortable, they are treatable.

WakeMed’s gastroenterology and colorectal surgery experts provide both non-surgical and surgical treatments for anal warts.

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What Are the Symptoms and Risk Factors of Anal Warts?

Anal warts are small bumps that can sometimes grow bigger, or cluster together. They can be many different colors, including peach, pink, yellow, and brown. Sometimes, people may experience no pain or discomfort. However, sometimes anal warts can itch or bleed.

As a type of genital wart, anal warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted disease. Most commonly, they’re spread through anal and vaginal sex. Inta-anal HPV-positive warts can transform into anal cancer.

If you are HIV-positive or immunocompromised, this transformation happens more quickly.

Anyone can get anal warts, and condoms don’t offer full protection, risk factors include:

  • Unprotected sex
  • Anal intercourse
  • Multiple sex partners
  • Sex with a person who has HPV

How Are Anal Warts Diagnosed?

Typically, a doctor can diagnose anal warts through a simple visual examination. If warts aren’t responding to treatment, biopsies may be performed to gather more information.

How Are Anal Warts Treated?

The first line of treatment for anal warts generally involves topical prescription medication. Depending on the location and the size of the wart, other initial treatments include cryotherapy in which liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the warts, laser treatments, and electrocautery, in which an electric current is used to burn off the warts.

If those treatments don’t work, surgical treatment of anal warts is considered.

What Does Surgery Involve?

For large warts, warts that are inside the anal canal, and warts that aren’t responding to other treatment, surgery is an effective option.

Most surgeries for anal warts are done on an outpatient basis. After giving the patient an anesthetic, the surgeon will cut off the wart. There may be some discomfort for a few days as the area heals, but patients are able to go home the same day. Sometimes after surgery you need a cream to prevent recurrence.