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Genital warts

What are genital warts?

Genital warts are small lumps that develop around the genital area. They may not cause any symptoms but sometimes they can be uncomfortable or itch or bleed. They are caused by a virus called the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Children with warts on their genital area need a full assessment before they are treated. Genital warts are quite common.

How has my child caught genital warts?

Genital warts are transmitted in a few of different ways:

  • children can get the virus from their mothers during their birth but the warts may not show up for many years
  • it is thought that children can get warts on their genital area from warts on their fingers and other areas
  • warts can also be a sexually transmitted infection. This is the most common way that adults get them

Because there are a few different ways that children can get genital warts, we need to see your child on the Safeguarding Support Unit (SSU) for a full assessment before arranging treatment.

We will need to ask you a few questions about your child’s general health, your family and about the warts. We will then examine your child, including a full body examination as well as examination of the genital area.

Does my child need any tests?

As part of the genital warts assessment your doctor will usually do tests for other infections, including sexually transmitted infections. These may include:

  • a urine (pee) test
  • swabs of the genital area (these are soft cotton swabs, which are not painful)
  • blood tests

If your child needs tests, these will all be explained to you before they are done. We will never do tests which have not been discussed with you.

The results of some of the tests take a few days or weeks to come back. Your doctor will inform you of the results by letter or by phone as soon as they have them.

What treatment is available?

Your child does not have to have any treatment. Genital warts are not serious and often go without any treatment.

You child can also have a Imiquimod cream (also known as Aldara) to help.

We do not recommend treatments such as freezing, liquid nitrogen or surgery. These are not suitable for genital warts in children and should not be offered.

If treatment is needed, we can start this during the assessment and arrange outpatient follow up with the Sheffield Children’s Hospital dermatology (skin specialist) team.

Imiquimod cream (Aldara)

Imiquimod cream (also known as Aldara) is a specialist warts treatment. It is a treatment known as an immunomodulator, which means that it works with your body’s immune system to help fight the wart virus.

It is very important that imiquimod cream is only applied to a small area of warts, and is not applied to a large area or to healthy or irritated skin. If your doctor is recommending treatment with imiquimod cream they will explain how to use it, the benefits of using it and the risks and side effects. Please ask if you have any questions.


We understand that being asked to attend the Safeguarding Support Unit can cause anxiety. Please bring any questions that you have with you and we will do our best to answer them.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SFG16

Resource Type: Article

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