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In diagnosing venereal warts, your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam to look for signs or symptoms of the condition. Since not all venereal warts are easily seen, however, he or she may need to perform an acetic acid test to detect unnoticeable warts. Before diagnosing venereal warts, your healthcare provider will also consider other conditions that share similar symptoms.

Diagnosing Venereal Warts: An Overview

Before diagnosing venereal warts, your healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions. This will include questions about:
  • Current symptoms you are experiencing
  • Your sexual history
  • Other medical conditions that you have
  • Any medicines you are taking.
Your healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam to look for signs and symptoms of the disease (see Symptoms of Venereal Warts). Most venereal warts are easily diagnosed by visual inspection.

Acetic Acid and Other Tests to Diagnose Venereal Warts

Not all venereal warts are easily seen with the naked eye. Therefore, your healthcare provider may apply a 3- to 5-percent acetic acid solution (vinegar is 5 percent acetic acid) on the penis, cervix, labia, or around the anus to make the flat venereal warts that often go unnoticed visible. These will turn white when exposed to the acetic acid solution.
However, this test can turn positive for a number of reasons besides venereal warts. Some examples of other conditions that turn white include:
Your healthcare provider may also recommend a Pap smear or colposcopy. During a colposcopy, your healthcare provider uses a special microscope to look more closely at the vagina and cervix for any signs or symptoms of venereal warts
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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