Kautona taihemahema Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is passed on by skin-to-skin contact. Most sexually active people get HPV and most have no symptoms.

Symptoms of genital warts

Genital warts look like small skin-coloured lumps. You can get them on your:

  • vulva
  • vagina
  • cervix
  • penis
  • scrotum
  • anus.

They may be raised or flat, single or multiple, small or large.

Sometimes you may also have itching, bleeding, or pain.

Diagnosing genital warts

Genital warts are diagnosed from the way they look.

If you have genital warts, it is a good idea to get tested for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at your:

  • healthcare provider
  • Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa clinic
  • school clinic
  • sexual health clinic.

Treating genital warts

Like other warts, genital warts often go away by themselves.

Do no use over-the-counter treatments which are not specifically for genital warts. 

Your healthcare provider can offer treatments, such as freezing or cream that make the warts go away quicker. You may need several visits or treatments. 

The HPV virus stays in you skin, so warts can come back.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) (internal link)

Preventing genital warts

The HPV vaccine can protect you against some types of the HPV virus that cause warts. The vaccine is free for young people in Aotearoa New Zealand from the ages of 9 to 26, but you can have it at any age. 

HPV vaccine (internal link)

Women, or people with a cervix, having a cervical cancer check can find HPV before it causes problems. There is currently no HPV text for men. 

Cervical screening — Time to Screen (external link)

Condoms offer some protection, but cannot protect other areas where you skin comes into contact.

Clinical review

This content was written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. It has been adapted for Health Information and Services.

Clinical advisers — HealthInfo (external link)