What is Human Papillomavirus?
Human Papillomavirus is defined as a viral infection that usually results in the manifestation of warts. Since there are at least 100 different strains of the human papillomavirus, the resulting warts can develop on any part of the body. There are at least 40 strains of HPV that can affect the male and female genitalia. While not all forms of HPV cause cancer, certain strains of HPV affecting the genital area are known to cause cervical cancer in women and anal cancer in men.
What are the Symptoms of HPV?
Warts are the most common symptom associated with the human papillomavirus. Most of the time, the body is able to ward off an HPV infection before warts have a chance to develop. However, in cases where this does not occur and warts do form, they will vary in type and appearance depending on which strain of HPV has been acquired. The types of warts most commonly associated with HPV are genital, common, plantar and flat.
Genital warts - As the name reveals, these warts occur in the genital area. Genital warts can appear as a flat lesion, as a series of bumps, or as a nodule. These warts usually manifest themselves on the vulva, cervix or vagina. Genital warts typically do not cause pain.
Common warts - These warts are generally rough, raised areas of skin that usually develop on the fingers and hands. Because of their location, these warts may be painful, especially if they develop anywhere near the fingers that you use to grip and grasp.
Plantar warts - These warts are typically hard to the touch and most often occur on the heels or balls of the feet. Again, because of the location of these warts, pain is typically felt upon walking.
Flat warts - These warts are slightly raised, and are darker in appearance than the rest of the surrounding skin. This type of wart generally affects children and young adults.
Cervical cancer - Cervical cancer is another symptom of HPV. In most cases, women do not even know they have cervical cancer because the strains that cause this type of cancer do not cause warts; therefore, most women find out after they have already been infected.
What Types of Treatment are Available for HPV?
HPV warts typically go away by themselves, although you may still have the virus. Those warts that do not go away by themselves are often treated with such over-the-counter topical treatments as salycilic acid, and/or prescription solutions such as Imiquimod, Podofilox and Trichloracetic acid.
Some warts may be resistant to the above-mentioned methods of treatment. If this occurs, surgical intervention and other medical procedures may need to be entertained. Cryotherapy is a procedure in which the wart is frozen off with liquid nitrogen. Electrocautery is a procedure in which the wart is burned off by use of electrical currency. Surgical and laser removal of the wart may also be entertained as an option to get rid of the warts.
What Causes Human Papillomavirus?
HPV is a virus that can enter the body via a cut in the skin. This virus tends to be transmitted primary by physical contact. In cases of genital HPV; however, sexual contact must be made in order for the virus to be transmitted from person to person. HPV transmission is most often not transmitted from mother to baby during vaginal delivery.