Managing external genital warts: practical aspects of treatment and prevention.
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Rising rates of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in recent decades, including external genital warts (EGWs), underscore the need for effective management of this common sexually transmitted disease. Although treatment is a vital aspect that aims primarily to resolve physical symptoms, health care providers must also address the psychosocial burden that typically accompanies diagnosis, treatment, remission, and recurrence. Education and counseling are integral components of care to address the cascade of negative emotional reactions that follow diagnosis, which often include anger, shame, stigma, frustration, and fear. Health care providers should offer patient information that is clear and simple, both verbally and in written form. Research to date has shown that information is most helpful when it is conveyed in a supportive tone and avoids stigmatization. Treatment decisions should consider the patient's preferences and the clinician's ability to offer certain therapies. A locally relevant algorithm and an individualized treatment approach are recommended by various treatment guidelines to improve the chances of compliance and treatment success. Given that success rates are variable, monitoring treatment is also necessary to gauge the patient's response to treatment, local reactions, and the potential need to switch treatments. Patients diagnosed with EGWs should also be screened for other sexually transmitted diseases because coinfection is common. Vaccination is becoming an increasingly important aspect of prevention strategies for HPV infections and should be considered for eligible patients.
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