Anal warts

Anal warts (condylomata acuminata) are growths found on the skin around the anus (rectal opening) or in the lower rectum.

Anal warts are the visual symptoms of a highly contagious disease caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) which is usually transmitted through sexual contact but not necessarily through anal intercourse. The same type of warts may occur on the penis, scrotum, vagina or labia.

Anal warts are caused by the human papilloma virus. There are many types of human papilloma virus; some types cause genital and anal warts and others cause warts on the hands and feet. The time between exposure to the virus and the appearance of the warts varies widely. Often it is from one to six months, but it may be longer. During this time, the virus remains inactive within the tissues.

Anal warts are usually quite painless and many patients display no symptoms. Other patients may notice small growths in the anal area. Others may have minor complaints of itching, occasional bleeding, or moisture in the anal canal.

Your doctor will be able to diagnose anal warts by inspecting the area around the anus and the anal canal.

Anal warts may appear as small, fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes anywhere around the anus or on the genital region. Sometimes the warts are so small they are difficult to notice. Sometimes warts will cluster together and give a cauliflower appearance.

Anal warts may not develop until several months after you have come into contact with the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes them.

Anal warts, depending on their size and location, may be treated by applying a cream. Otherwise they may need to be physically removed using one of a number of methods. Your doctor should be able to advise you on the likely treatment method. It is important to get anal warts treated as the virus that causes them is highly contagious, sometimes even when there are no visible warts.

Anal wart removal

Anal warts can be treated by using a topical treatment (a cream, lotion or chemical), usually applied by the patient. Some anal warts may need to be physically removed by a nurse or consultant.

What next?

If you are suffering with a suspected condition, you should seek the advice of your doctor who will be able to refer you to Benenden Hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

There are four ways to access treatment at Benenden Hospital which include self-funding, using private medical insurance or your Benenden membership, or through the NHS e-Referral scheme.