Genital Skin Tags or HPV Warts: What’s the Difference

Genital warts are not common but they do occur. They may appear anywhere on your body from the groin area to the armpit area. They usually develop within a few weeks after sexual contact with someone who has had vaginal, penile or both types of sexual activity. If you have been exposed to HPV (human papillomavirus) then it is possible that you will get genital warts too. HPV is a virus which infects the cells of the human body. You can get genital warts if you have ever had any type of sexual contact with someone who has them. Some people don’t even know they have them until they start developing them themselves. There are two types of genital warts: Type 1 – These are harmless and only affect around 5% of people infected with HPV. They are often found on the genitals and underarms. Type 2 – These are much more dangerous and affect up to 90% of those infected with HPV. They cause warts to grow rapidly and can spread easily between people. Sometimes they look like small bumps, others resemble large red blisters or ulcers. Most genital warts do not hurt when touched so you probably won’t notice them unless they become very painful. These can be easily spread during sexual contact, even if the person does not have visible warts or symptoms.

Some people are more susceptible to genital wart infection. These factors include: Your age – People under the age of 20 are more likely to develop genital warts.

Those over the age of 50 are less susceptible to genital warts due to the immune system producing fewer free radicals. The immune system is what causes a virus to exist and spread inside the body. The more free radicals the virus has to combat, the weaker it becomes. Those with weakened immune systems have a much higher risk of genital wart infection because their bodies cannot fight off the spread of the virus. Having an impaired immune system can be caused by disease, malnutrition, stress and other factors. Your gender – Men are much more susceptible to genital wart infection than women. The risk is around three times higher for men than it is for women. This is because men have a much bigger surface area that the virus can spread to. This leads to men contracting the virus more quickly and at a higher rate than women. Your sexual partner – Many people get genital warts from sexual contact with an infected person. If you are having unprotected vaginal, penile or genital contact with an infected person there is a large chance you will become infected with the virus. Having many sexual partners also increases your risk of developing genital warts. If you are having sexual contact with multiple people, always use a protective barrier such as a latex or polyurethane condoms. If you don’t have one then it is best not to have any penetration at all. Men who have unprotected penile contact with other men have the highest chance of developing genital warts.

There are two types of treatment for genital warts: surgical and non-surgical. Your healthcare provider will advise you on which one you require.

Surgical treatment is when the wart is physically cut away from the skin, this is obviously more painful than just having a topical treatment. Non-surgical treatment is when the genital wart virus is destroyed on the skin using either: creams, liquid that is applied with a cotton wool bud or a paper-thin tube (like an ear swab) that releases the medication directly onto the infected area, or a band aid-type ring that can be worn for several hours at a time.

The success rate for both types of treatment is around the same and it all depends on how severe your symptoms are, the location of the warts and other factors. The virus usually goes away within a year without treatment but this can be very painful and embarrassing in the mean time.

However, there is no need to feel embarrassed. Genital warts are incredibly common and more people suffer from them than you think. In fact, by the age of 50, at least 40% of American adults have had genital warts at some point in their life.

There are also natural remedies that you can try to get rid of genital warts before seeing a doctor and some of these are:


Garlic contains allicin which is an antimicrobial agent that kills off external agents such as viruses. You can either try eating raw garlic, garlic capsules or you can apply it directly to the infected area.

You can also try crushing a clove of garlic and applying it directly on the wart. Cover it with a band aid and leave it on overnight.

Do this for as long as you feel necessary and keep an eye on the area to make sure it’s not getting irritated.

If you do not like the smell of garlic, apply some over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream that contains 0.5% hydrocortisone.

It is very effective at reducing the swelling and itchiness.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be bought without a prescription and it is an anti-fungal and anti-microbial agent. This makes it ideal for treating genital warts.

Apply some tea tree oil to a cotton ball and wipe over the affected area.

You can also try using a q-tip to apply tea tree oil directly to the wart.

Do this 3 times a day for about a week.

Do not apply too much as it can burn the skin if applied in large amounts. Also, do not use it for too long as it can lead to skin dryness.

Castor Oil

Castor oil has also been proven to be effective in removing warts. It contains a chemical called ricin, which is an irritant that disrupts the cell growth cycle which in turn prevents the wart virus from reproducing.

Apply some castor oil to a cotton ball and wipe over the infected area.

You can also try massaging it into the affected area. Applying heat will help the ricin work faster.

Do this daily for at least 2 weeks.

Do not over do it as applying too much castor oil can burn the skin and should be avoided.

Warts are very common but they can be easily treated if you know how to identify the virus and have the right tools to fight it off. There are many different methods that you can use on your own or you can always talk to a doctor about it.

It is important to keep your immune system up so make sure to drink lots of fluids and eat nutritious foods. All of these methods are effective but the key is to make sure you keep at it for at least a few weeks before giving up on them.

If you have tried everything and nothing is working then it is time to see a doctor or dermatologist who will give you stronger prescription medication that will speed up the process. It is always best to try natural methods before turning to prescription medication because some of these can have side effects.


Herbal remedies have been used for years to successfully treat all kinds of warts. Most of these natural remedies are not only effective but they also do not have any side effects.

At first, these remedies work slowly but if you have the patience and stick with them, you are sure to get rid of the virus. The ingredients in these over the counter ointments and creams are safe for external use and can be easily applied to the genital area.

Herbal remedies contain active ingredients that kill the virus causing the wart. These can either be an essential oils, salicylic acid or other chemicals found in various plants.

For genital warts, it is important to select the right remedy since some of the common ingredients can irritate the sensitive skin in that area.

Some common herbal ingredients found in these remedies are as follows:

-Tea tree oil: This ingredient is known to have antiseptic and healing properties. It also has antiviral properties that make it a good remedy for genital warts.

-Allantoin: This ingredient helps the skin heal and promotes skin cell growth.

-Sandalwood: This ingredient helps stop the spread of the virus. It also reduces skin Irritation

-Aloe Vera: This ingredient helps promote new skin cell growth. It is also a natural moisturizer that prevents skin dryness.

-Lemon balm: This ingredient has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It also promotes new skin cell growth and healing.

-Rosemary: This ingredient has healing and antiseptic properties.

Castor oil is a common ingredient in natural wart remedies. It contains a chemical called ricin that prevents the wart virus from reproducing.

This makes it your body’s way of clearing the virus off your system. Unlike other ingredients listed here, castor oil should be avoided if you have sensitive skin.

These are some of the more common ingredients used in natural over the counter products available. It is best to consult a dermatologist or healthcare professional before purchasing any remedy.

Common Herbal Remedies

Tea tree oil: This is one of the most popular and effective ingredients in natural wart remedies. According to studies, it has anti fungal and anti viral properties that fight the wart causing virus (HPV) effectively.

This oil is also gentle on the skin and can be used by people with sensitive skin.

Compounds or essential oils present in tea tree oil that give it healing and anti-viral properties are terpinene-4-ol, terpinene-4- ol acetate, cineole (eucalyptol), α terpineol, γ terpineol, terpinen-4-ol and α terpineol acetate.

Sources & references used in this article:

Penile appearance, lumps and bumps by V Rane, T Read – Australian family physician, 2013 –

Papilloma by AO Sabry, BC Patel – StatPearls [Internet], 2020 –

external genital warts: report of the American Medical Association consensus conference by V Kumar