HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that enters the body through small tears created in/around the genitals during sexual intercourse. The incubation period for HPV is approximately 3 to 4 months, although it may vary.
Depending on the severity of the infection, the genital warts may join together to form a papillary, cauliflower-like growth.
Patients with genital warts may experience bleeding between menstrual periods. If the warts are present around the anus, patients may also notice bleeding while having a bowel movement.
Female patients infected with HPV may notice an increase in, or change in the appearance of vaginal discharge.
Genital warts can be removed chemically, or with the use of a laser.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or bichloroacetic acid (BCA) can be applied to each individual wart using a cotton swab. A barrier such as petroleum jelly should be applied to the areas surrounding the wart(s) to minimize skin irritation.
Podophyllin resin is a cytotoxic agent typically used to treat small, external genital warts. Podophyllin resin is left on the treatments area(s) for 1-4 hours before being washed off. This medication causes shedding or sloughing of the skin containing the virus.
If other treatments are ineffective, patients may undergo cryotherapy. Cryotherapy uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the targeted cells, causing cell death. Patients should not attempt to use over-the-counter wart removal as a remedy for genital warts.
The HPV vaccine provides protection against several types of the disease, however, it does not treat an existing HPV infection. Ideally, the vaccine should be given prior to the start of sexual activity. The HPV vaccine has also been found to reduce the risk of anal and oropharynx cancer.
Certain types of the human papillomavirus can cause cervical cancer. Vaccines are available to protect men and women against HPV types 16 and 18, which are known to be cancer-causing.
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