ZocdocAnswersHow do genital warts and molluscum differ?

Question

How do genital warts and molluscum differ?

What's the difference between genital warts and molluscum? How can you tell them apart? I have some sort of bumps on my vulva that look to me like both molluscum and warts. How will they be treated if it is one or the other? Can they both me cured?

Answer

Genital warts and molluscum warts look very similar to the untrained eye but differ in many ways. First, they care caused by different viruses. Genital warts are caused by an infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). This virus is also responsible for cervical cancer in women. Molluscum contagiosum is a completely different virus. For starters, molluscum can occur anywhere on the body whereas genital warts do not tend to form in many other locations other than the genitalia. They also look slightly different. Molluscum warts have a pearly, flesh colored top while HPV warts occur in close groups and look a bit more irregular. The treatments differ as well. Molluscum warts are often either removed surgically or cryogenically (frozen off). There are many options including some newer creams available today that can be used to treat HPV warts. There is no absolute cure for either of them. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician (family doctor or internal medicine doctor). He or she can take a close look at the bumps on your vulva and determine which of these possible types of warts they could be. From there you will be able to get the proper treatment. Good luck.

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