External genital warts: diagnosis, treatment, and prevention

Clin Infect Dis. 2002 Oct 15;35(Suppl 2):S210-24. doi: 10.1086/342109.


External genital warts (EGWs) are visible warts that occur in the perigenital and perianal regions. They are due primarily to non-oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) types, usually types 6 and 11. Physical examination assisted by bright light and magnification is the recommended approach for primary diagnosis. Biopsy is indicated when EGWs are fixed to underlying structures or discolored or when standard therapies are not effective. Recurrences are common, and there is no single treatment that is superior to others. Among women with atypical squamous cells, molecular HPV testing may be useful in determining who should be referred for colposcopy. Condoms may provide some protection against HPV-related diseases and thus are recommended in new sexual relationships and when partnerships are not mutually monogamous. Because the efficacy of cesarean section in preventing vertical transmission of HPV infection from women with EGWs to their progeny has not been proved, it is not recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Aminoquinolines / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Condylomata Acuminata / diagnosis
  • Condylomata Acuminata / drug therapy*
  • Condylomata Acuminata / surgery
  • Condylomata Acuminata / virology
  • Cryotherapy
  • Education
  • Electrosurgery
  • Female
  • Floxuridine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Imiquimod
  • Interferons / therapeutic use
  • Laser Therapy
  • Male
  • Papillomaviridae*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / surgery
  • Podophyllin / therapeutic use
  • Podophyllotoxin / therapeutic use
  • Tumor Virus Infections / diagnosis
  • Tumor Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / surgery


  • Aminoquinolines
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Floxuridine
  • Podophyllin
  • Interferons
  • Podophyllotoxin
  • Imiquimod