The Human Papillomavirus, more commonly known as the HPV, is a group of non-enveloped DNA viruses whose members are known as papillomaviruses. Alongside humans, this virus is also found in other vertebrates such as snakes, birds, and turtles.
Let’s look at the causes and symptoms of this lethal infection – and what you can do to treat it.
Human Papillomavirus: An Overview
The Human Papillomavirus is the most typical sexually transmitted infection. It is easily spread through skin-to-skin contact (mostly sex) from those who already are infected with it. Therefore, if you are sexually active, you might get it at some point in your life.
HPV affects your genitals, mouth, and throat area. It also attacks the site, such as the skin across the penis, vagina, vulva (the area around the vagina), rectum and anus.
In most cases, this virus is not dangerous and goes away on its own, but some of its types can cause cancers and other damaging problems in your body. However, unlike AIDs, there are vaccines available for patients with HPV. So there is no need to be scared or ashamed if you contract the HPV virus.
Types Of Human Papillomavirus
According to the research, there are more than a hundred types of the HPV virus. 40 of these types are transferred through sexual activity, while the other 60 cause warts on the hands and feet.
In case you might be asking yourself, warts are a type of skin infection caused by HPV. These infections are responsible for the rough, skin-coloured bumps that form on the skin. Since the virus is heavily contagious, you can quickly get warts if you touch someone who has warts on their skin.
HPV 6 and HPV 11 are the low-risk types of HPV. As they can’t harm you a lot, getting vaccinated before you become sexually active is better.
HPV 16 and HPV 18 are regarded as the high-risk types. This is because HPV 16 causes symptoms of cervical cancer, whereas HPV 18 can develop into cervical cancer. However, with the promising procedure of vaccination, even these types of HPV can protect against cancers.
Remember, vaccination saves lives!
Causes Of HPV Virus
As mentioned before, HPV spreads through physical contact – aka skin contact. It can also enter your body through a cut, bruise or wound. That means whether you have oral, anal or vaginal sex, you’ll most likely contract the virus.
Having a range of signs and symptoms is also not necessary for the infected person. Therefore, you might get it without even knowing.
Let’s look into some more in-depth causes.
1. Quantity of Sexual Partners
Though HPV can spread even if you have sex with a single person, having sex with more than one person is alarming. The more partners you have, the higher the chances are of you contracting the virus.
That is why; it would be better if you tone down the number of people you are actively participating with.
Age is also a factor when it comes to the causes of HPV. Typical warts occur in young kids. These warts can surface on the hands or feet. As for young adolescents and adults, genital warts appear.
Though warts are not painful, some types of them can cause pain. In addition, they cause itchiness and can bleed too. Hence, one must stay alert while dealing with warts.
3. Delicate Immune Systems
People who don’t eat right and don’t have a healthy lifestyle can be at a greater risk of the virus. Since eating good and healthy builds your immune system, you become prone to many diseases.
As for the HPV virus, a delicate and weak immune system is like an open invitation. You must have a robust immune system to avoid getting this virus in the first place.
4. Direct Contact
Please, don’t touch somebody’s warts. Not only is it unhygienic, but also life-threatening. Touching someone else’ warts and not wearing protection before coming in contact with surfaces exposed to the virus can put you at high risk.
Symptoms Of HPV
After contracting this virus, it takes years before the symptoms finally appear. The body gets rid of it in most cases, and you won’t even get to know. However, you should suspect HPV if you’ve developed the following symptoms:
1. Genital Warts
Genital Warts are usually flat or raised bumps. In men, these appear on the penis, scrotum, or anus. In women, these occur around the vagina, the vulva, cervix, and anus. These types of warts rarely cause pain or discomfort, but they may be itchy and tender.
2. Common Warts
These show up as rough bumps and usually appear on the hands and fingers. Common warts can be painful in some cases and cause bleeding too.
3. Flat Warts
Flat warts are spots with a flat top. These can appear anywhere, but they are common around the face and legs.
4. Plantar Warts
Plantar warts are hard bumps that show up on the heels of your feet. They can cause pain and discomfort.
There are several ways through which you can find out whether you have contracted the virus or not. Here are some of the methods mentioned below.
1. Physical Exam
In a physical exam, the doctor will look at genital warts that might have appeared around your vaginal or penis area. It is the easiest and the most convenient method out of all the other options.
2. DNA Test
If you are a woman, then the DNA test can be conducted on your cervix cells. That can determine whether you have any HPV that can lead to cancer. This method is allotted to women above 30, followed by a Pap smear test.
3. Pap Smear
Women above 30 are advised to do a DNA test followed by a Pap smear test. Your doctor will collect some samples from your vagina or cervix to send to the laboratory.
Pap tests can catch on to problems early on, such as abnormal cells potentially leading to cancer.
Colposcopy is a medical procedure where the doctor looks at your cervix and vagina. The doctor visually examines it through a colposcope.
The process usually is pain-free and is used to find any abnormalities in your cervix. However, you might feel pressure when the speculum goes inside or a minor burn or sting if they wash your area with a vinegar-type solution.
The HPV virus is common and can happen to anyone sexually active. But getting vaccinated beforehand would prove fruitful in the long run.
Fortunately, being updated on topics like HPV can help you stay away from numerous other vicious infections in the long run.