Genital & Anal warts

 

Anal warts are surprisingly common – it’s an affliction we treat quite commonly.  In fact many patients who come in telling me they have hemorrhoids actually have warts.  It makes sense because many of the symptoms are very consistent with hemorrhoids. 

Genital, venereal, and anal warts are caused bycondylomata acuminata, a sexually-transmitted virus.  Its spread has been difficult to stop, unfortunately, because its long incubation period (the time between acquiring it and the emergence of symptoms) makes it difficult for the patient to find out who gave it to them.  Incubation is 1 to 6 months. Estimates of how much of the US adult population is infected range as high as 50%, so it’s no surprise that I see so many cases.

The virus is usually contracted by direct contact with an infected person, and there’s no better place to incubate and grow a virus than within the rectal mucosa (lining of the rectum).  It lies dormant until the immune system weakens for some reason, then it flairs.

The first symptoms are a little like genital herpes. The patient might develop genital sores, like cold sores, flu-like symptoms, as the virus fights to overcome the immune system’s defenses.

As the virus proceeds, other symptoms emerge – anal/genital warts themselves, itching, bleeding, irritation, pain, discomfort, protrusion – similar symptoms as with hemorrhoids.

Treatment
My treatment of anal warts is state-of-the-art and similar to what most practitioners use.  I remove them under local anaesthesia, either with a surgical blade (excision) or heat (fulguration).  The sites usually heal without much scarring.  This is minor, in-office surgery that leaves the patient “ambulatory,” meaning they are able to get up and walk out when it’s completed.  Like the rest of our procedures, it does not require hospitalization, a major benefit often cited by our patients due to the time and expense saved.

Even if there is no pain or other symptoms present, in any case the warts must be removed.  For the body’s immune system to fight the virus, they have to go because the warts themselves contain such a high viral load – they are basically all virus.

I’ve seen cases where they’ve narrowed the anal opening considerably, interfering with normal bowel activity.  Some are as big as walnuts.  Though it’s rare, they can also degenerate and become malignant over a long period of time if left untreated.  That’s one reason I strongly recommend against someone “just live with them” once they have been identified.

I treat cases that are relatively advanced, although there are very advanced cases that I refer out to surgical specialists.

These warts develop over the course of years.  Usually by the time I see the patient, they have been in denial for that long about what they have.  It’s the kind of condition that’s difficult to admit to and to seek treatment for, so I certainly understand.  Plus of course not many people know who to see when they are ready to deal with it.  There aren’t a lot of doctors who specialize in this type of condition.

For long-term management after treatment, a combination of homeopathic remedies and lifestyle adjustments can be effective in keeping down the viral load, or for prevention if no warts have emerged.  The virus that causes genital and anal warts is thought to be incurable, but it can be kept in check on a lifelong basis with no symptoms.  For women it’s especially important to keep it managed because the same virus can cause cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer.

In the clinic we I don’t address preventive or systemic (whole-body) treatment because we stay focused on the immediate need of carefully removing the warts, but anti-viral treatment, for those who pursue that, can succeed.  I have very experienced wholistic practitioners that I can refer to for long-term management.

I find that most people are just happy (very happy) to get rid of them and leave it at that.

 

 

About Dr. Cranford

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Hemorrhoids

 

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