Diseases & Conditions


HPVCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatment

What is HPV?

HPV or Human Papilloma Viruses infect the skin and cause benign warts and other lesions. In fact there are over 100 types of HPVs. Of these more than 40 types can infect the anogenital tract, meaning the anus and the genital tract in both men and women and cause genital warts. There are a few HPV types that can cause uterine or cervical cancer. It is also known to cause anal as well as penile cancer in men.

Causes of HPV

HPV infection is caused essentially through sexual intimacy. The infection risk goes up as the number of sexual partners increase. Human Papilloma Viruses can cause diseases like common warts. Plantar warts, anogenital warts, genital cancers, oral papillomas, etc. In men the genital warts can infect the urethra, scrotum, penis and the rectal area. These warts appear as soft, raised masses with a surface that is as smooth as the penile shaft or rough with many fingerlike projections like in anal warts. In women the genital warts have a similar appearance and can affect the moist areas of the labia minora and also the vaginal opening.

Medication for HPV

A 0.5% solution or gel of Condylox or generic Podofilox. This medication has to be applied twice every day for three days followed by four days without any treatment. Ideally the treatment should continue for three to four weeks or until the lesions are gone.

Prevention of HPV

Abstinence from sexual activity can help in preventing HPV infection that is transmitted through sexual contact. There is also a vaccine available against four HPV types that are known to cause genital warts, cervical carcinoma and anogenital carcinoma. This vaccine can be used in people between the age of nine and twenty six and is immune against Human Papilloma Virus types 6, 11, 16 and 18. There is another vaccine that is immune against HPV type 16 and 18 and is used in females between 10 years and 15 years.

Risk Factors of HPV

Since HPV occurs due to sexual activity, there are a few risk factors involved with this disease. These include:

  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Unsafe sex
  • Victim of sexual abuse
  • Unprotected sexual intercourse
  • Early Sexual activity
  • Chemotherapy
  • Weakened Immune System

Symptoms of HPV

Genital HPV symptoms in men and women include the appearance of flat lesions or cauliflower shaped warts along with itching, bleeding and discharge. In women, HPV symptoms include warts in the vagina, vulva or the cervix. However, in men the warts may appear on the tip of the penis, groin, scrotum or inner thigh. The other Human Papilloma Virus symptoms in women include

  • Cervical or vaginal dysplasia or
  • Recurring respiratory papillomatosis.
  • Even though the genital warts are painless they may be very bothersome due to their location, size and also itching.
  • Men and women with genital warts will quite often complain about itching, painless bumps and discharge. Apart from this history of any previous or concurrent sexually transmitted diseases.
  • In some cases the warts are visible in more than one area.

If you have symptoms of genital warts, it is important that you seek an appointment with your doctor and discuss treatment options. If you have bleeding warts that cannot be controlled by direct pressure should be seen by a medical practitioner. Warts that are obstructing your urethral opening and causing difficulty in urinating should be treated as an emergency situation and should be treated very quickly.

Treatment for HPV

One of the common signs of HPV is genital warts. In the US more than 500, 000 new cases are diagnosed every year. In a typical scenario, the physician may treat the genital wart without further tests, particularly if a person has earlier outbreaks of genital warts. These warts can appear as small, fleshy, raised bumps. However, at times they can also be extensive and have a cauliflower shape. In fact, more than 90% of the genital warts are caused by HPV 6 and HPV 11 types, considered to be the low risk Human Papilloma Virus types.

When it comes to the treatment of external genital warts, there is no cure or treatment that can get rid of the HPV infection. The only possible way of treating it is to remove the lesions that are caused by the virus. However, removing the warts will not stop the spreading of the virus to other areas.