What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

by Vanya Sharma last updated -

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You have likely heard the phrase HPV before, but the longer name is human papillomavirus. It sounds familiar because approximately 70% of people are infected by papillomavirus at some point in their life, and many people will be continually infected without ever showing any symptoms or ill effects.

What is human papillomavirus (HPV)

The human papillomavirus is a DNA virus that infects the keratinocytes of the skin or membranes in the body and can manifest in a number of ways. You may not show any outward symptoms, or you could develop warts and premalignant lesions. There are more than 170 different types of human papillomavirus, and more than 40 are transmitted through sexual contact.

A flat wart found on a boy's little finger suffering from human papillomavirus

Symptoms of HPV

Papillomavirus can appear in many ways, shapes, and sizes, depending upon the type of HPV involved. And though the symptoms are not very clearly visible, one can identify them through the following as mentioned below.

Genital Warts

If there is an appearance of flat lesions, small bumps or tiny protrusions on or around the vulva, anus, cervix or in the vagina, then consider it a sign of papillomavirus.

Genital warts in men appear on or around the penis, scrotum or anus. These genital warts can cause irritation, pain, and an itchy feeling.

Common Warts

Uneven bumps that usually appear on the hands, fingers or elbows are referred to as common warts. These common warts can are very unsightly and can sometimes, even cause pain and bleeding.

Plantar Warts

Plantar warts can be seen as hard protrusions on the heels of your feet, and they cause a lot of discomforts.

Flat Warts

These are dark lesions on your skin with a flattened top. In children, they usually appear on the face, while in adult men, they can be seen in the beard area. They appear on the legs in women.

Besides, if not detected in time, papillomavirus can also result in tumorous growths that give an appearance of their own symptoms.

  • In the cancer of the penis, they may show up as a change in the color and thickness of the penile skin. There also might be an appearance of a painful sore on the penis.
  • In anal cancer, one might experience bleeding, discomfort, itchiness, and pain.
  • In vulvar cancer, again, there’ll be a change in color of the skin and thickness of the vulvar area. One will also experience chronic pain and itchiness as a symptom.
  • In throat cancer, one may experience throat inflammation, earache, and continuous coughing. There will also be trouble swallowing food and while breathing.
  • Cervical cancer can also be caused by the presence of papillomavirus if one hasn’t been vaccinated against HPV.

These can all be signs and symptoms of HPV or papillomavirus, and once noticed, need to be addressed by a proper doctor.

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About the Author

Vanya Sharma handles the medical expert collaboration for Organic Facts. A writer at heart, she joined the website while she was still pursuing her English Literature degree from IGNOU, Delhi, India. She is also responsible for the website’s monthly newsletter and website content and contributes to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube regularly. Currently pursuing an e-course offered by Stanford University, ‘Introduction to Food and Health’, she aims to bring unbiased and helpful information to all those seeking to make their health and lifestyle a priority.  

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