What is human papillomavirus?

Safe sex is a healthy sex but there are some diseases or viruses which can be transferred even after taking all the precautions. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a virus which can be transferred from one person to another through the skin and sexual contact. The virus can also enter through the breakage on the skin and can infect the cells in the layers of it.

Most men and women who are sexually active are threatened by the virus as it is a sexually transmitted infection. There are more than 100 types of HPV (Human Papillomavirus) that can infect different parts of the body and 40 of them are known to infect genitals, mouth, and throat of the human being. Some of them are considered to be deadly as they can lead to cervical or anal cancer.

HPV is quite common as both men and women tend to develop it at some point during their lifetime which is proportional to the sexual activeness. Annually, there are more than 14 million new cases diagnosed with the infection and numbers are increasing. According to the report, there are in total 79 million people currently suffering from the disease which includes both men and women.

Symptoms of HPV:

In some cases, HPV didn’t develop any symptoms but the person was infected with the virus. It can vary from one to another but some common symptoms may be as follows.

  • Genital warts – Genitals are most affected by the virus as the person tends to develop bumps or tiny stem-like protrusions in and around the area. In women, these warts will appear on the vulva, in the vagina, area around the anus, or on the cervix. It can be the reason of discomfort and itchiness.
  • Common warts – They generally occur on the fingers, hands or on the elbows of the infected person. The shape of warts will be like a rough and raised bump which can be painful with some bleeding.
  • Plantar warts – They are hard and rough which occur on the heels or balls of your feet.
  • Flat warts – The color of these warts are slightly darker than the skin and are flat-topped on the skin. They are differentiated with the occurrence as they occur on the face of infected children, men get them around the beard region and women have them on the legs.

Risk factors:

Sex is a need which makes the infection quite common in most of the countries. There are certain risk factors involved in it too:

  • More than one sex partner – If you are involved with more than one sex partner, you are likely to develop the infection and if your partner is having sex with multiple partners, again the risk is higher.
  • Age factor – Most of the children are suffering from common warts and genital warts with sexual activity among youngsters.
  • Immune system – Most of the time, our immune system fights against these infections. People with weak immune system tend to develop this infection.
  • Damaged skin – if you have any cuts or open skin, you might get infected by the virus which results in common warts
  • Personal contact – The infection is contagious as it can be transmitted while touching someone else’s warts.

Causes of HPV:

The virus is capable of multiplying and getting spread all across the body and usually, it enters through the cut on the skin or an open space. There are risk factors which make it favorable for the person to develop it and come with sexual contact with the infected person or skin to skin contact.


The visible warts are the best way to diagnose the virus but at times these warts are not visible on the body which makes it difficult for the doctors. There are certain tests through which the virus can be diagnosed.

  • Vinegar solution test – Vinegar solution will be applied to the genitals which turn the color of the skin into white. The change is color is the sign of an infection.
  • Pap test – Cells from cervix or vagina will be under observation by the consultant to know about the infection as it can end up developing cancer.
  • DNA test – This test also conducted on the cells of the cervix and it is recommended for women who are above 30.

Precautions from HPV:

There are ways by which the virus can be prevented.

  • Staying away from sexual contact is the only way to prevent it by 100 per cent.
  • There are vaccines which are available in the market to prevent you from the condition.
  • Being sexually active is healthy but limit down the numbers of your partners.
  • While having sex, use protection.
  • Get the Pap test.
  • Everything comes with an age and is recommended not to have sex when you are too young.
  • Change your lifestyle and opt for healthy habits.

Treatments of HPV

The infection is not 100 per cent curable as it can reappear in different parts of the body with a change in size and shape. There are medicines which can be in your course to get rid of the virus and some surgical procedures can be considered if medications are not responding. Doctors will observe the nature of warts under the medicines and finally suggest you remove it completely from the skin. Some surgical procedures are

  • Cryotherapy – It will freeze warts with liquid nitrogen
  • Electrocautery – Procedure to burn warts with electric current
  • Laser surgery
  • Surgical removal.

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