There are currently just over 40 different types of genital warts. Therefore the question, how long do genital warts last, is not answerable. Not only are there forty different variations of genital warts, the ways in which each genital wart sub type manifests itself is different depending on the immune system and genetics of the person infected. Some warts will disappear in months, others in years, and still others may never go away unless treated. There are even some sub types of genital warts that do not ever result in the formation of physical warts and yet you are infected with the condition just the same.
How Long Do Genital Warts Last according to the treatment
The underlying condition for genital warts normally will stay with a person for several years. Some sub-types will stay with a person for their entire lifetime. In most cases for each of these sub types the warts themselves only appear periodically. They appear more frequently when first infected with the frequency tapering off throughout the years after infection.
There are some common treatments for genital warts. These treatments are focused on the physical manifestation of the warts themselves and are not cures for the underlying virus that causes the warts. In other words these cures may get rid of your wart, but you are still infected and you can still infect another person with the underlying virus.
Podophyllin resin and podophyllin lotion are both thick liquids that are brushed on the wart by your physician. The liquid is left on the surface of the wart for up to four hours and then is cleaned away by your physician. This liquid is specifically designed to thwart additional cell growth and can only be applied by medical professionals. Sometimes it takes repeated applications before this liquid completely kills and removes a physical wart.
Podopfilox lotion and gel is a prescription medication that can be administered by the infected person in their own home. This lotion normally takes several weeks of repeated applications before it completely eliminates the targeted wart. Cryocautery is a liquid nitrogen product that is used kill the cells and not allow them to grow any further. Straight liquid nitrogen applications are normally handled by a doctor though their are some liquid nitrogen over the counter medications that can be used. Laser treatment of genital warts is a relatively new procedure and yet it operates similar to all of the other methods. The only difference is that the cells are killed by a laser instead of by using a chemical or liquid nitrogen. Electrocautery is a method whereby the cells are targeted to be killed through electrocution and surgical excision is when a doctor will actually physically remove a wart surgically. All of these methods can be effective if persistently applied. The surgical method being the single method with the most immediate results.
As you can see, how long do genital warts last, is a very complicated question. Even under medical attack, using chemicals to kill the wart, it can persist for several weeks. The underlying infection with the virus that causes genital warts can last a few years or a lifetime. The difference being the specific sub type of genital warts that you are infected with and your specific genetics.