HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a common infection affecting about 80 million Americans. There are more than 100 different strains of HPV, about 40 of which are sexually transmitted. Although HPV is incredibly common, it often manifests without symptoms and clears on its own. In fact, many people are unaware that they have this infection. If complications do occur, though, many treatments for the symptoms are available. There are various reasons why people may seek HPV treatment.
Some strains of HPV cause genital warts. These soft growths appear around the genital area in both men and women and can cause pain, itching and discomfort. Women may also experience vaginal itching, bleeding or burning. Genital warts are more likely to occur in individuals younger than age 30, people who smoke, those with immune system deficiencies, those who have been abused or people whose mother had this condition during childbirth.
Genital warts can be present even if they aren’t visible, so any of these unusual symptoms warrants a trip to our office. Our medical professional may prescribe topical wart treatments; if these are ineffective, certain procedures and treatments may be used to remove the warts.
Other strains of HPV increase the risk for developing cervical cancer. During a routine Pap test, a gynecologist may detect abnormal cell changes that could indicate early stages of cervical cancer. In other cases, the presence of genital warts will alert the doctor to check for cancerous changes in the cervical cells.
If you are diagnosed with a strain of HPV known to cause cervical cancer, some doctors advocate a watchful waiting approach. This involves regular testing to indicate whether the cancerous cell changes have advanced; sometimes they go away on their own, removing the need for invasive treatment. In other cases, these cells must be destroyed using cryotherapy, laser treatment or other means of HPV treatment, depending on the situation.
HPV Treatment and Prevention
While experts think that most sexually active people are infected with HPV at least once, the good news is the virus can be prevented and treated. If you are experiencing any unusual symptoms, talk with the team at Rao Dermatology about your options regarding HPV treatment. We may be able to determine the underlying cause and develop an effective treatment plan.