Genital warts

Genital warts are small fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes that appear on or around the genital or anal area. They are caused by a viral skin infection called the human papilloma virus (HPV).  There are many different types of HPV, the types most likely to cause genital warts are types 6 and 11.


HPV that causes genital warts is transmitted through skin to skin contact during sex.  It is estimated that 50% of sexually active people aged 15-49 have been infected with genital HPV.  You cannot get HPV from sharing towels, plates, cutlery, toilet seats or swimming pools.

HPV can be passed on whether or not someone has visible warts.  In fact, most people who have HPV will not develop warts, and it can be weeks, months or years from being infected with HPV and visible warts appearing. 

Warts can spread from the genital area to the area around the anus without having anal sex.

Warts are generally not harmful, but they can sometimes be itchy and people can be upset by their cosmetic appearance.


Genital warts are diagnosed by a member of our clinical team examining you.  If you think you have symptoms of genital warts you can:


Without treatment genital warts will eventually resolve on their own.

A member of the clinical team will discuss treatment options with you.  There are two main types of treatment:

  • applying a cream to the warts
  • cryotherapy (freezing the warts)

People who smoke may respond less well to treatment than non-smokers.

Sometimes warts can recur following treatment.  If this happens you should come back to clinic.


  • Using condoms reduces the risk of transmission of HPV
  • If you had HPV vaccination at school this may have included vaccination against HPV types 6 and 11.

More information


NHS Choices - genital warts

wart-pil-screen-v-2018.pdf (