STI symptoms: The 2 STIs causing lumps on the skin – can lead to complications

Facts about sexually transmitted diseases

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According to Chemist4U, the two most searched for STIs on Google between August 2021 and July 2022 were genital warts and scabies. They revealed people Googled these terms a whopping 100,000 times a month each – more than other well-known STIs such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea. With this in mind, chief executive officer of the online pharmacy, James O’Loan, spoke with about important symptoms of these STIs.

Both genital warts and scabies can cause lumps or spots on the skin but they are very different conditions.

The pharmacist explained: “Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and can cause painful growths or lumps around the vagina or penis and surrounding areas.

“They can also cause itching, bleeding and changes to urine flow, however, not everyone who has genital warts will have symptoms.“

Treatments include creams or liquids, surgery and freezing.

“If left untreated they can be especially dangerous for pregnant women as they can cause problems during birth and in rare cases pass to the baby during birth.”

As with many STIs it is recommended you practice safe sex to prevent catching HPV and, subsequently, genital warts.

This can involve using condoms and or dental/dams during sex.

There is also an HPV vaccine available to some people to reduce their chance of getting it.

Although scabies is considered an STI because it can be spread through sexual contact, it is usually passed through nonsexual skin-to-skin contact.

It can also be passed second-hand through contact with contaminated objects such as furniture, clothing or bedding.

Therefore, if you know you have come into contact with someone with scabies it is best to seek treatment as well as washing your clothing, bedding and any other fabrics you might have touched.

He added: “Scabies is a common and contagious disease which is caused by tiny mites that reproduce on the surface of the skin and burrow into it to lay their eggs.

“They can cause a red, itchy, raised rash or pimple-like spots on your skin, which may be itchier at night.

Pharmacists can help treat scabies with some over-the-counter creams or lotions.

“Scabies is an infectious disease and although symptoms may take up to eight weeks to appear it needs to be treated,” Mr O’Loan said.

“Complications from scabies can be infections of the skin such as impetigo and it can make existing conditions like eczema or psoriasis worse.”

According to the NHS, general signs of an STI include:

  • An unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or anus
  • Pain when peeing
  • Lumps or skin growths around the genitals or bottom (anus)
  • A rash
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Itchy genitals or anus
  • Blisters and sores around your genitals or anus
  • Warts around your genitals or anus
  • Warts in your mouth or throat, but this is very rare.

The health service advises attending a clinic if you or a sexual partner has symptoms of an STI.

It says: “Many STIs have no symptoms at all, like HIV.

“The only way to know for sure is to get tested.”

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