Medically reviewed on Nov 17, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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As frustrating as they are to contend with, as many as 400,000 people deal with genital warts every year. Genital warts are a side effect of human papillomavirus (HPV), and they can be extremely contagious if you develop them.
While visible genital warts often go away on their own, it’s possible to speed up their remission with topical or procedural treatments. How long do genital warts last? With treatment, warts can take a few months to subside rather than several years. How long it takes for them to clear up varies significantly between individuals, based on factors like treatment methods and overall immune health.
If you’re struggling with genital warts, understanding how to treat them can help protect both you and your partner(s)’ physical and emotional well-being. Below, we’ll touch on genital warts’ causes, how to treat them, and what you can do to curb the spread of HPV.
The main cause of genital warts is HPV, the single most common sexually transmitted infection. HPV can be contracted by having any of the following types of sex with someone who is infected :
While HPV affects an estimated 79 million people in the US, not all types of HPV cause genital warts. Genital warts are caused by two specific strains of HPV :
In other words, if you’ve been diagnosed with the HPV infection, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll develop genital warts.
While there is currently no cure for HPV, 90% of cases retreat on their own within 2 years of contracting the HPV virus. Genital warts are similar: many cases go away on their own, though others can worsen over time. Fortunately, there are several ways to effectively treat genital warts and:
See more: Does HPV Go Away?
It’s important to understand that genital warts themselves are considered a complication of HPV. Apart from this dermatological condition, having HPV increases the risk for :
Genital warts can vary significantly in appearance. Most commonly, you might notice them in two formations :
Genital warts themselves may be raised or flush against the skin. Most have a rough texture, but they can also be smooth in some cases.
Genital warts don’t always crop up on your sex organs. Women and people AFAB might also develop them on their :
In addition to the penis, men and people AMAB might notice them on the :
Genital warts may also develop around the rectum and anus, or around the oral cavity (on the throat, mouth, lips, and tongue). Due to where they appear, some may confuse genital warts vs. ingrown hairs. This is why it’s important to pay attention to both their location on the body and their appearance and texture.
Unfortunately, there are no home remedies to effectively treat genital warts. Normal wart removal methods should not be used, as they can damage the sensitive skin of the genital area.
If you want to speed up their healing, two approaches are recommended for genital warts treatment: topical and procedural.
Topical treatments are applied directly to the skin to encourage the healing of your genital warts. A variety of medications are available, including :
Alternatively, some dermatologists use a plant-based option to abate genital warts. These are created from sinecatechins and an extract of green tea that’s typically applied to warts formed around the rectum and anus. 
If your genital warts don’t respond to topical treatments, you might consider having them removed through surgery or cosmetic treatments. While surgical procedures can be more aggressive, they can be highly effective in assisting with :
Cryosurgery is considered one of the most effective methods for removing warts. In this procedure, a healthcare provider freezes off your warts using liquid nitrogen. It may require multiple sessions and anesthesia, but it’s relatively affordable.
Several other modalities are available, including :
While it can feel alienating to have genital warts, the condition is more common than you’d think: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates approximately 1 in 100 sexually active Americans has them.
So, can HPV come back after treatment? The short answer is yes. So, whether you’re concerned about genital warts or want to avoid re-infection, the following sexual health practices can help you avoid getting them again in the future :
Remember, many STIs, including HPV, do not always present with physical symptoms. Many people may become infected without knowing it. By making regular sexual health testing a cornerstone of your routine, you can help defend yours and your intimate partner(s)’ present and future well-being.
Whether you’re currently treating genital warts or are trying to reduce your chances of getting them, taking a proactive stance on your sexual welfare is one of the best things you can do for your health.
You can start screening regularly with the Everlywell STD Test – Female or the Everlywell STD Test – Male. All genders can take their test at home, mail it to Everlywell’s CLIA-certified labs, and receive physician-reviewed results about 6 common STIs.
Sexual health testing needn’t be inconvenient, unaffordable, or time-intensive. Start taking your sexual health seriously and receive STD treatment online by meeting with a clinician via Everlywell.