Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus that can cause warts or lesions on the body. Over one hundred different variations of the virus exist. HPV is easily spread and one of the most common infections among humans. HPV is spread through skin to skin contact and sexual relations. Some variations (not all) have the potential to cause cancer, particularly cervical cancer in women. Symptoms will differ depending on which part of the body that is affected. Some of the most common symptoms and body area affected are:
- Most commonly HPV causes warts. – Warts are a growth or lesion on the skin. Warts can be found on the palms of the hands and bottom of feet (plantar), penis or vagina (genital) and in/on the mouth and lips (oral). HPV is also the culprit that causes the common wart that can appear virtually anywhere on the body.
- An abnormal pap smear in women. – HPV lesions develop on the cervix inside the vagina that can turn cancerous. HPV is the cause of approximately 3 out of 4 cervical cancers in women. Other symptoms that indicate cervical cancer (caused by HPV or other sources) include excessive vaginal bleeding and bleeding between periods.
Just because you have one or all of these symptoms does not mean you definitely have human papillomavirus symptoms. HPV can be present (especially involving the genitalia) and cause no symptoms at all. If you are experiencing these symptoms and have cause for concern you should consult your health care provider.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Papillomavirus Symptoms
Diagnosis of human papillomavirus is usually done by:
- Observation of the wart
- Pap smear for women
Treatment for human papillomavirus infections usual involves removing the lesion or wart. This is true of genital and cervical warts and lesions as well. Removal can be accomplished by one of the following methods, depending on the location and extensiveness of the lesion.
- Surgical excision (cutting the wart off with a scalpel)
- Cryotherapy (removing the wart by freezing it with liquid nitrogen)
- Using a laser or electrocautery to burn the lesion off.
- Salicylic acid to burn the wart off. This method is available over the counter and is used by many to remove common warts.
- Cervical HPV will require surgical intervention and follow up pap smears to make sure cancer does not occur.
- Trichloroacetic acid is used to burn off genital warts.
Risk factors for HPV include:
- Age under 25 years
- Multiple Sexual Partners
- Poor Hygiene
Prognosis for Human papillomavirus Symptoms
There is no cure to rid the body of HPV. If you are diagnosed with human papilloma virus and a wart is removed; it may return. You can prevent contracting HPV that causes genital symptoms by getting vaccinated. The vaccine is available for both men and women. Vaccination is recommended for all adolescents. To prevent other skin warts you should practice good hygiene and hand washing techniques.