Anal warts, also known as condyloma, are growths found on the skin around the anus (rectal opening) or in the lower rectum. Anal warts are caused by the human papilloma virus, which is usually transmitted through sexual contact but not necessarily through anal intercourse. There are many types of human papilloma virus; some cause warts on the hands and feet and others cause genital and anal warts. The same type of warts may occur on the penis, scrotum, vagina or labia.
The time from exposure to the virus and growth of the warts is commonly from one to six months, but it can be longer. During that time, the virus remains in the tissues but is inactive. Many patients with anal warts have no symptoms. In many cases, anal warts may remain unnoticed. They often occur without pain or discomfort. Anal warts are found inside and around the area of the anus.
Anal warts start as small bumps that may be no larger than the head of a pin. Initially, they may be too small to be noticed. As they grow, they can develop a cauliflower-appearance when several are clustered together. They may be flesh-colored, yellow, pink, or light brown.
Since the virus that causes anal warts also causes genital warts, warts may occur on other parts of the body at the same time. In women, they may appear on the vulva, vagina, or cervix. In men, genital warts can develop on the penis, scrotum, thighs, or groin. They may also grow on the mouth or throat of an infected person.
Though rare, other symptoms of anal warts can include itching, bleeding, or discharge from the anus. An infected person also may have the sensation of having a lump in the anal area.