Male genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can be spread from person to person through direct or indirect contact with broken skin. There are generally no signs or symptoms that occur with this particular sexually transmitted disease, but some people may experience visible warts on their genitals. Some warts may be so small and discreet that the person may not realize that they are there.
There are many types of HPV infections that can cause genital warts. This infection is spread mainly through sexual acts such as vaginal sex, oral sex, and anal sex. For this reason, male genital warts usually appear on the penis, scrotum, or around the anus. The infection can be spread by those who are not sexual active as well, although it is less common. Occasionally a mother might pass genital warts to her child during childbirth.
When a person is infected with male genital warts, the virus may lay dormant in his skin cells for quite a while. Warts may not appear for almost two years after an infection has occurred. When the genital warts are treated and go away, the virus that is present in a person’s skin cells may still be transmitted to others. Re-occurrences of genital warts are also common because of the dormant virus.
Some people who are infected with the virus that causes male genital warts will be immune to it. If this is the case, they will never show any signs or symptoms of the HPV virus. It can still be spread to others, however.
Warts that appear on a man’s genitals will vary in size, shape, and color. There may only be one wart that is present or there may be multiple. Most male genital warts are flat and scaly, and they may be either flesh-colored or white. Some warts are so small and hard to see that a doctor must use a magnifying glass to locate and diagnose them.
There is no cure for the HPV virus, but there are treatments for genital warts. They may be burned off with laser treatments. Creams may also be used to get rid of them, slowly, over time. After such a cream is applied to the genital area, a person should generally not shower or bathe until it is time for the cream to be removed. Sexual contact should be avoided at all times while warts are active and visible, and during any treatment for male genital warts.