Different strains of the HPV virus can cause other types warts on the skin (ex. Plantar warts). Patients acquire HPV through tiny nicks and cuts in the skin. Rubbing and close skin-to-skin contact, such as with sexual contact, can spread HPV to other persons. Sexual contact is not essential for the development of genital warts, but this is the most common reason for their development in adults. In some people, the virus might be transferred to the genital area from other areas of the body, possibly the hands.
HPV is acquired form someone who has genital warts or who carries the virus. Certain people are susceptible to develop warts, while others have resistance to the wart virus and will not develop warts, even if exposed to the virus. The sexual contacts of patients with genital warts should therefore be examined by a physician to make sure that they do not have warts.
Certain subtypes of HPV are considered high risk and are associated with cervical and anogenital cancers. Women are particularly at risk. It is recommended that women with genital warts or that women who have sexual contact with men with genital warts, should have regular (yearly) Pap tests, as changes of the cervix have been associated with HPV.
Other groups that are at risk of developing HPV-related cancers are immunosuppressed patients and HIV-infected individuals.
Prevention and Treatment
Use of condoms may reduce transmission of the virus to uninfected partners. A vaccine against high-risk HPV types is now available but is only effective in non-infected individuals. Genital warts can be treatment by various means to destroy the wart. In many patients freezing of the wart with Liquid Nitrogen is used. Other patients may have a chemical solution applied to the wart, or be given Immiquimod cream that stimulates the patients immune system to fight off the virus. In stubborn cases, laser therapy and surgical removal can be considered. Treatment often needs to be repeated a number of times.
Tenderness will frequently develop after treatment. Swelling may also occur, as the genital skin is quite thin. The swelling will settle down in a few days.
Contact Sanova Dermatology
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