[Question #4375] Genital warts - recurrence in different place; partner risk

31 months ago

I was diagnosed with Genital Warts 14 months ago (29 year old female). There were 2-3 couple around my vulva, later a couple internally, and one inside my urethra.


I had them treated with cryotherapy once, then laser twice, not because they were especially severe – all doctors said it was quite minor – but because I have OCD and had become extremely obsessive, staying in all day and checking with magnifying mirrors – and I decided to hand all treatment, including checking for new warts, over to a professional, rather than applying creams myself (I am working on the OCD issues with a therapist). One month after first finding warts, all of the warts had gone. I had full gyne examinations once a month for the next 4-5 months to confirm this, to stop me from checking. I was also vaccinated (Gardasil 9), and have been taking really good care of my immune system to the extent possible. Since then, I began a new relationship, months ago, and have only had sex with him (protected penetrative sex; unprotected oral sex). He knows I had warts in the past.


It’s now 13 months since I had any active warts. I quickly shaved my pubic region on Friday. I have thick curly hair and get ingrowns and shaving bumps regularly. The next morning, I had the usual shaving bumps around my bikini line, including a couple that looked like pimples with a yellow head, but also two much larger, soft bumps in a different area, in the middle of the pubic hair on the mons pubis (I also shaved here). They are round and very shiny, not flat, red/pink and look like there could be a bit of fluid/pus inside. I see no signs of a hair trapped inside. They don’t hurt at all. They don’t look like I remember the warts (the warts were much smaller than these – although I don’t remember them very well). As far as I remember, the warts never appeared in that location.


I can’t get to a doctor for about a week (and am pretty broke having spent so much money on this the first time). I’ve been mentally in bits since finding them. How worried should I be that this is a) a recurrence of the warts, or b) something else like herpes?


I know you can’t diagnose me, or offer the complete reassurance that my OCD wants. A part of me also knows that if it’s the warts, and I haven’t cleared the infection, it’s disappointing but not the end of the world. I just want to have some sense of whether it’s probable that the warts, or something else, would come back in this way. My boyfriend goes away for a month soon, and I also wonder if I should be abstaining from sex in our last days together to protect him, or whether this is my OCD out of control. I told him I found bumps that are likely something to do with shaving, but that I’m worried they could be something else. He seems unconcerned, and I don’t know whether, having informed him, to let him decide/go ahead with having sex if he’s comfortable with the risk. Any information you can give me would be appreciated.









Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
31 months ago
Welcome to our Forum and thanks for your confidence in our service.  I'll do my best to help.  let me start by congratulating you for doing things right- getting the HPV vaccine was exactly the right thing to do.  I also admire your willingness to inform your current partner of your past diagnosis of warts- good job.  Let me provide the "punch line" regarding my assessment and then, below provide a bit more detail.  What you describe, in terms of appearance, locations and by way of background are entirely consistent of folliculitis, most probably related to  shaving and in no way suggest either HPV or HSV.  Nothing you have described suggests a need to abstain form sex with your partner because of these lesions. 

To expand on this.  We all have pores in our skin, some of which are hair folliculitis from which hairs (including pubic hairs grow) and some of which do not have visible hairs.  The pores may be microscopic and very difficult to see. Either way, these pores can get "clogged" with normal skin and debris which then led to inflammation of those pores, sometimes with pus-like pimples, sometimes as red bumps.  The lesions you describe and their location are totally consistent with folliculitis.  Neither warts nor herpes tend to be round, shiny or have pus-like contents.  My advice is to manage these bumps as you would folliculitis, with soap, water and a wash cloth.  I would not squeeze them as this can lead to secondary infection as the squeezing introduces skin bacteria into the area. 

I hope this information is helpful.  This really does not sound like something to worry about.  EWH