Difference between Genital Warts and Herpes

By | January 11, 2014

Difference between Genital Warts and Herpes – Causes

In this article, we take a look at the difference between genital warts and herpes, comparing the two conditions with respect to their causes, clinical symptoms and management.

Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The human papilloma virus has more than 100 strains. The common strains causing genital warts are HPV 6 and HPV 11. On the other hand, genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Both of these conditions are transmitted through sexual contact.

difference between genital warts and herpes – Clinical Symptoms

Genital warts are usually asymptomatic meaning many patients do not realize that they have genital warts. They can present themselves as soft and flat lesions that can be seen on the genital region, urethra, oral cavity (throat) and the anal region. In men, they are commonly seen around the shaft of the penis just below the foreskin while in women they are commonly seen around the vulva. Over time, they may appear like small clumped lesions that are similar in appearance to a cauliflower. They can be rather itchy and can cause a great deal of discomfort to the patient. Many a time, genital warts are just too small to be seen by the naked eye making them a fairly commonly transmitted sexual disease.

Considering the difference between genital warts and herpes, patients with genital herpes demonstrate the presence of elevated whitish blisters that are seen in the genital area (penis, vagina, and anus) and oral cavity. These lesions are typically painful and many patients describe a burning sensation. Some lesions can be rather itchy as well. Genital herpes can be easily transmitted through sexual contact from one individual to another. In addition, it can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn foetus. In cases where mothers to be have a significant case of genital herpes, a caesarean section may be required.

difference between genital warts and herpes – Diagnosis

Diagnosis of both these conditions is best achieved through clinical examination. However, in some cases, further tests may be required. These are often done to detect whether a patient has picked up the virus from their partners. Patients can be diagnosed at speciality sexual clinics. Skin scrapings may be taken to confirm the presence of union human papilloma virus or herpes simplex virus within the lesion.

Patients who have genital herpes are often treated for the presence of human immunodeficiency virus.

difference between genital warts and herpes – Treatment

Genital warts can be treated in a number of different ways. Topical application of creams and liquids are extremely beneficial. Podophyllotoxin, trichloroacetic acid and Imiquimod are the commonly used topical solutions to treat genital warts. In the event that other specialist treatments are required, cryotherapy, laser surgery, electrocautery and surgical excision may be performed.

Genital herpes is treated with anti-viral drugs such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. Treatment may be required in high doses. Recurrent attacks may require different courses of treatment. Treatment of symptoms with conservative measures such as keeping hydrated and applying petroleum jelly on the lesions can also help.

difference between genital warts and herpes – Conclusion

Genital warts and genital herpes share certain characteristics: they’re caused by viruses, are fairly common, transmitted by sexual contact, and provide discomfort and lifestyle disturbance. The difference between genital warts and herpes applies to the causing virus, the clinical symptoms, and the treatment needed.

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