Sores on the genitals
HPV (genital warts)
HPV is a virus that can cause warts to grow on the genitals or anus.
It is also possible to have warts and not know it, especially
if they are growing inside the vagina. The warts are not
dangerous, but they can be uncomfortable.
Signs of HPV
• Small, dry, white or brown bumps on the genitals
or anus. The bumps have a rough surface and
do not hurt.
To test for HPV: touch the warts with a mixture of plain
vinegar and water. The warts will turn a whitish color if they are caused by HPV.
WARNING! Large, flat, wet growths that look like warts are
not usually HPV. They may be caused by syphilis. Anyone
with these growths should be tested for syphilis.
Do not use the following treatment.
1. To protect the healthy skin, put petroleum gel (Vaseline) or another greasy
ointment on the skin around each wart.
2. With a small stick, put a little trichloroacetic acid (TCA) 80% to 90% solution
or bichloroacetic acid (BCA) on the wart. Leave the acid on until the wart turns
white. Be careful not to spill the acid on the
healthy skin. Wash the acid off after 30 minutes
or if the burning feeling is very painful.
The acid should burn the wart off and leave a
painful sore where the wart used to be.
Usually, you must repeat the treatment once a
week for a few weeks before the wart goes
away completely. Keep the sore clean and dry
until it heals. The woman should also not have
sex until the sore heals.
The types of HPV that cause cancer in a woman’s cervix are not the same types of
HPV that cause warts. See page 380 to learn how to test a woman’s cervix for HPV.
A vaccine called Gardasil is now available which protects against the most
dangerous types of HPV, as well as the HPV viruses that cause most genital warts.
The vaccine is a series of 3 injections that can be given to young women between
the ages of 9 and 26. It should not be given during pregnancy, and cannot be used
to treat a woman who already has HPV.
A Book for Midwives (2010)