Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a contagious virus most often transmitted through sexual contact that develops as soft growths on the skin and mucus membranes. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease with symptoms such as genital warts. At least half of all sexually active men and women contract HPV. Common non-sexual body parts that are at high risk for infection included a person’s throat, tongue, mouth, feet, legs, arms and hands. The virus can only be contracted through skin to skin contact when there is an open cut or abrasion.
Other symptoms and signs of HPV are plantar, common, and flat warts. For women, genital warts can develop tumors or oral and upper respiratory lesions and because the genital warts can cause abnormal cell changes in the cervix or other genital areas, they are in danger of it developing into cervical cancer. Genital warts are white, pink or red cauliflower shaped growths in the vagina and anal areas that may cause itching or bleeding. HPV does not affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant and rarely does a baby of an HPV-infected mother become infected. The vaccine Gardasil can protect women from the most common four types of HPV.
It is important to note that not all types of HPV cause gential warts. Other types of HPV cause warts on other parts of the skin, such as the hands and feet.
There is no cure for HPV, but the infection often clears up on its own. If it doesn’t, treatment such as cryotherapy or the freezing of abnormal cells with liquid nitrogen, conization which is a cone biopsy to remove the abnormal areas or loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) which destroys abnormal cells using an electrical current.