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Genital warts are skin-colored or whitish bumps that appear on your genitals or anus. You can also have the virus that causes genital warts but not have any symptoms.

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Genital Warts Symptoms

Genital warts look like skin-colored or whitish bumps that show up on your vulva, vagina, cervix, penis, scrotum, or anus. They kind of look like little pieces of cauliflower. You can have just one wart or a bunch of them, and they can be big or small. They might be itchy, but most of the time they don’t hurt.

Not all bumps on the genitals are warts. There are other infections and normal skin conditions that might look like a wart but are something else. If you think you have genital warts, it’s important to get checked out by a nurse or doctor.   

When do genital warts usually develop?

It can take several weeks, months, or even years after you have sexual contact with someone who has genital warts for them to show up. That’s why it’s so hard to know when you got the HPV infection that caused them, or who passed it to you.

You can get the virus and never actually get warts, so you could be infected and not have any symptoms. Some people only get warts once, and then never get them again. Some people have warts develop more than once (recurring).

If you get genital warts, you might think that means your partner has been cheating on you. That’s not necessarily true. It can sometimes take a really long time for warts to show up, so it’s possible that you or your partner might have gotten them a long time ago. Sometimes the virus lives months or even years in the body before turning into genital warts.

Fun fact: You can have the HPV type that causes warts and never have any symptoms yourself, but STILL give it to someone else. And then genital warts can show up on them. So knowing exactly when you got genital warts (and who gave them to you) is complicated. Talking with your partner and a doctor or nurse can help.

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