[Question #1] warts. how soon do they appear?

43 months ago
Dr.HHH, you helped me years ago. Day 0, I have a sexual encounter. Lasted but a minute with and without protection with someone I don't know well. Day 1 begin inspecting penis hourly. Over the next four days I notice dry skin, shiny patches, nothing serious. Now between days 5 and 8 can't be exact I notice a dark bump on penis about 1 inch from base. Like a small pebble or pellet. Day 10 I call doc for appointment after a few days of seeing if it will go away. Day 14 I see doc. He says it might be a wrt but not sure. Freezes it off on day 14. I read so many old posts from HHH and Dr hook about how soon a wart shows up. Always have said several weeks, 6-8 weeks, months.  The timjng is really odd to me. Can I have gotten a wart between five and 8 days after exposure? The doc I saw said If it was a wart it had to have been there longer and maybe I didn't notice. I went to another clinic to ask about wart timing.  The practitioner said there is no exact minimum but at least one month is her guess.  Prior to this escapade I have had a steady partner for 4 years with no issues.  It was a single bump, firm and smooth on penis but close to base so within area were pubic hair grows.
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
43 months ago
Welcome to ASHA's Ask the Expert forum. You have asked the inaugural question and I'm happy to help.

FYI, and for the benefit of other users, Dr. Hook and I will answer most STD questions other than herpes more or less randomly, usually without regard to requests for either of us. Terri Warren will answer most herpes questions. From past experience and many years of working with each other, we know that our opinions and advice about STDs, HIV prevention, etc are almost always the same, even if our styles may differ.

Your doctor and the information you found in searching other forums or online sources is correct: there is no way a new genital wart can show up more than several weeks after exposure. Your doc's guesstimate of a month minimum probably isn't afar off, but I would put it in the range of 6-8 weeks, and even that is awfully short; the average is 3-6 months (different studies have come up with different figures) and it can be as long as 1-2 years. Whatever the cause of the thing on your penis, it is not a wart or any other problem from the recent sexual exposure. From your description, I'm pretty sure you're just looking too closely and noticing minor skin anomalies -- may be nothing abnormal at all -- that would escape your attention except for your anxiety about a sexual exposure you apparently regret.

If you remain concerned about it, you might consider seeing a dermatologist (assuming your current doctor isn't one). But honestly, I don't see any cause for concern.

I hope this has helped. Best wishes--   HHH, MD 
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43 months ago


Thank You doctor.  Regret is putting it mildly.  It is hard to hear when someone says you might have an STD.  In any event, it was frozen off and been gone for over 3 weeks now. whatever it was. 

 

As a follow up, In other reading I have done, and with some advice from doctors, they said the possibility of a wart from past encounters is a possibility.  Stress, smoking, sickness, etc... might trigger a past infection to come about.  I had been going through about six months of depression and stress from multiple outside factors.  They drove me to eat and sleep very little, I started smoking (quit weeks ago.  couldn't be happier).  I suffered with a terrible flu/cold for most of march and april where I took every OTC cold/flu/sinus drug known to man.  I just wonder if all that could have woken up a sleeping giant from years ago.  Again, after so much reading and a quote from yourself that states HPV is a fact of life for most sexually active people these days.  I had no idea HPV rates were so high.

H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
43 months ago
I'm still confident that if it was a wart, the underlying HPV infection was acquired long before this particular event. In other words, I agree in part with your follow-up question. That said, I still think it probably wasn't a wart -- but unless others pop up, you'll probably never know.

The causes of delayed recurrence of warts or other problems from old HPV infections (e.g. abnormal pap smears) are mostly unknown. Smoking is statistically associated, but the actual risk is only modestly higher in smokers vs nonsmokers, and the actual risk is low even in the heaviest smokers. Nothing else (diet, other infections, and so on) is known to make a difference. If these have an influence, it probably is small. Most such events probably are random, without specific cause. So definitely don't go blaming yourself for something you couldn't possibly have done anything about. Even if this was a wart, it's a clinically trivial event that isn't likely to have any important effect on your health, or your wife's. If it's HPV, then you can assume your wife has been repeatedly exposed and long since infected with the same strain of the virus, probably for many years, and isn't likely to have any future problem from it. And I'll stress once more that most likely this wasn't a wart and HPV is irrelevant to your current situation. 

So all the available science and collective clinical experience is that this really isn't nearly as big a deal as it seems in your mind. Do your best to let it go and move on without worry. If you cannot, counseling may be in order. It seems clear you're having a lot of life stresses that might also benefit.

Finally, note the forum rule:  you get one more follow-up comment/question and reply, after which you would need to start over with a new question and posting fee. So if you have another question, consider it carefully before posting it.
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43 months ago
Thank you doctor.  I understand this is my last question/comment on this thread.  I have spoken to my doctor about mental health and we will work on it..  I have always been a worry wart. LOL.  (poor choice of words in this forum).  Thanks again.  Your expertise goes a long way in calming me down.  other doctors always give me huge ball park numbers/ranges.  They are usually walkin clinic people.  As an expert in this field I am more comfortable with your estimates.   
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
43 months ago
I'm glad to have helped. Thanks for the thanks.

By the way, I see a typo in my initial response. Probably it is obvious, but part of my reply should read "no way a new genital wart can show up sooner [not more] than several weeks after exposure".

Best wishes.
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H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
43 months ago
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