Human Papillomavirus

What is human papillomavirus (HPV)?

There are more than 100 types of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) — most are harmless, but about 30 types can put you at risk for cancer. These types of HPV are classified as either low- or high-risk and are passed on through sexual contact with an infected individual. Low-risk HPV can cause genital warts. High-risk HPV, however, can lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus in women, or cancers of the penis and anus in men.

What are the symptoms of human papillomavirus (HPV)?

Most of the time, your body will eliminate the HPV infection before it develops into something more serious, such as genital warts. Although some individuals will develop genital warts from the HPV infection, others won’t experience any symptoms — even if a cancerous strain causes HPV. If warts do appear, they’ll either present themselves in the form of genital warts — in women, these warts will appear mostly on the vulva, but can also appear near the anus, on the cervix, or the vagina. In men, these warts will appear on the penis and scrotum or around the anus. It’s rare that these warts will be painful, but sometimes, they’ll itch. Aside from genital warts, HPV may also present itself through common warts on the hands, fingers, or elbows. They may even come in the form of uncomfortable plantar warts on the heels or balls of your feet, or flat warts that are darker than the rest of your skin and can appear anywhere.

How does ID Care diagnose human papillomavirus (HPV)?

As experts in all areas of infectious diseases, our team at ID Care can identify and diagnose the HPV infection by examining your warts. Women should have a Pap smear, as this test will detect changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer. In some cases, DNA tests may be performed to recognize the high-risk characteristics of HPV that are linked to a variety of genital cancers.

How does ID Care treat human papillomavirus (HPV)?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HPV — even if you receive treatment for your warts or have them removed, it’s normal for them to reappear, either in the same place or a new location. The medications we provide at ID Care include prescription creams, and when applied to your lesions, will help eliminate your warts. If your warts do not respond to the creams we prescribe you, we may recommend having your warts removed by either freezing, burning, surgery, or laser surgery.

How can I avoid contracting human papillomavirus (HPV)?

Even though there is no cure for HPV, you can still prevent it. Getting the GARDASIL®9 vaccination early will help safeguard your health and reduce your chances of developing cervical cancer and genital warts. Correct usage of latex condoms significantly reduces but does not eliminate the risk of catching or spreading HPV.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic