Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a DNA virus. There are over 200 strains, of which over 30 infect the genital tract, potentially causing genital warts or cancer. The others cause common hand and feet warts or inflict no harm. There is no cure, only treatments for the symptoms HPV may cause.
The HPV viruses are categorized as either high-risk or low-risk. Most are low-risk and do not pose a severe health risk. However, the high-risk varieties can cause changes in the body’s cells, possibly resulting in cancer. Therefore, it would be wise to protect yourself and others against HPV transmission by following preventive measures.
You can be infected with several HPV strains at a time. Often, there are no symptoms; if there are, it is warts.
There are different kinds of warts – genital, plantar and flat warts. Which you get depends on the HPV strand. All warts are raised or rough bumps on the skin that may or may not be painful.
The HPV virus infects you by entering your body through a tear in your skin, like a cut or scrape, or from vaginal, oral or anal sex. In addition, you can get warts by skin-to-skin contact with someone else’s wart or touching a surface that came into contact with a wart.
There is no 100% effective way to avoid common warts, but abstinence is 100% effective at preventing genital warts. However, for most adults, that is an unrealistic option.
Therefore, other ways to minimize the risk of HPV transmission include limiting your number of sexual partners and using a condom for every sexual encounter. But keep in mind that condoms will not fully protect you because HPV can infect skin beyond the covering.
Anyone between the ages of 9 and 45 can get the HPV vaccine, preventing genital warts and HPV cancers. The CDC recommends vaccination for all children between 11 and 12 years old or before they become sexually active.
Women can reduce their risk of developing cancer from HPV by getting screened during a Pap test. The screening detects precancerous cells, at which point treatment can stop them from developing into cancer.
If preventive measures fail and you have a wart on your body, you need medical attention because it is likely contagious. At Medical Dermatology Specialists, we can remove your HPV warts and inform you about how to prevent them. Contact our Atlanta medical dermatology practice if you need common or genital wart removal.
Medical Dermatology Specialists, Inc.
5730 Glenridge Dr, Suite T-100
Atlanta, GA 30328
Monday – Thursday 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM