While no one likes to think about viral infections like human papillomavirus, unfortunately, they are common and a reality for many. If you would like to be tested for HPV, or have been diagnosed and are looking to control symptoms, reach out to our practice today. Dr. Gray will take the time to discuss your individual case and available treatment options to help improve your daily life.
What is Human Papillomavirus?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a viral infection that causes warts on the skin or mucous membranes. It is passed between people through skin-to-skin contact, and many varieties are passed through sexual contact. It is extremely common, and most people who are sexually active will get some form of it at some point, even if they do not have many sexual partners.
HPV often does not cause any health problems or symptoms, so an individual may not be aware that they are infected. However, it can lead to health problems including genital warts, warts in the throat, cervical or penile cancer, or other forms of cancer.
Human Papillomavirus Diagnosis
The first step toward treatment is to first diagnose HPV. Many medical professionals can identify HPV from visual examination if warts are present. However, if there are no visible signs testing can be done. Testing for HPV looks different for men and women. For women, regular pap tests will help to identify abnormal cells, which can help identify cervical cancer or HPV. Women ages 21-29 should have a pap test every three years by their gynecologist. Women can also have a DNA test, which tests the cells of the cervix. Unfortunately, there is currently no FDA-approved test available to diagnose HPV in men.
Treatment Options for Human Papillomavirus
The majority of cases of HPV will go away on their own, so there is no treatment for the infection. However, repeat testing for HPV patients will be done by your doctor to ensure that there have not been any cell changes that may lead to complications.
While warts can be addressed, treating the warts will not treat the virus itself, and warts may return. However, very large or bothersome warts can be eliminated with the following options:
Topical Prescription Medications: Creams or topical applications of salicylic acid, imiquimod, podofilox, or trichloroacetic acid can be used to remove warts.
Cryotherapy: This involves freezing off the warts with liquid nitrogen.
Electrocautery: This treatment involves a special tool that burns off the warts using an electrical current.
Surgery: Cutting out the warts during surgical removal is also an option. However, there is a chance that the wart will return.