HPV Home > Genital Warts Symptoms

Soft, moist, pink, or flesh-colored swellings generally occur within weeks or months of contracting genital warts. These warts can appear in many places, including in or around the vagina or anus and on the cervix, vulva, penis, scrotum, or thigh. Other signs and symptoms of genital warts may include itching, pain, discomfort, and burning.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Genital Warts?

Genital HPV infections (HPV stands for human papillomavirus -- the virus responsible for genital warts) are the most common type of sexually transmitted disease (STD). Yet, most people who have a genital HPV infection do not know they are infected. The virus lives in the skin or mucous membranes and usually causes no symptoms. However, some people will develop symptoms, and genital warts are the most common.

Specific Symptoms

Genital warts (known medically as condyloma acuminata or venereal warts) usually appear as numerous soft, moist, and pink or flesh-colored swellings, usually in the genital area. They may be raised or flat, small or large. They may even combine to form a large cauliflower-shaped mass.
Less commonly, genital warts may appear as red- or brown-colored, smooth, slightly raised bumps. This type is most often seen in young, sexually active people.
Genital warts can appear in many places, including:
  • On the vulva
  • In or around the vagina or anus
  • On the cervix
  • On the penis, scrotum, groin, or thigh.
After sexual contact with an infected person, warts may appear within weeks or months, or not at all.
Genital warts spread rapidly over moist areas, which means it is common for them to appear on both sides of the vulva or anus. It is possible for genital warts to also spread inside of the urethra or rectum.
Other genital warts symptoms may include:
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Discomfort
  • Pain.
Genital warts are diagnosed by visual inspection. Visible genital warts can be removed by medications you apply or by treatments performed by your healthcare provider. Some individuals choose to forego treatment to see if the warts will disappear on their own. No treatment regimen for genital warts is better than another, and no one treatment plan is ideal for all cases.
(Click Genital Warts Treatment for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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