HPV infection – Symptoms, Causes, Complications & Risk Factors

hpv in men

The most common sexually transmitted infection is HPV (human papillomavirus). Most sexually active men and women are exposed to HPV at some point of their lives. There are many studies in which are shown that HPV is very common in the United States of America and there are approximately 14 million newly diagnosed cases of HPV annually. There are different types of HPV. Some types can cause genital warts while others can lead to cancer. Vaccines can protect against HPV infection.

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HPV Symptoms

In the most cases, our immune system is defeating an HPV infection before it creates warts. When warts happen then they can vary in appearance depending on which variety of HPV is involved:

Flat warts: These warts are flat – topped and slightly raised lesions which are darker than the skin. They can happen anywhere. Children usually get these warts on the face. Women tend to get these warts on the legs. Men tend to get flat warts in the beard area.

Plantar warts: Plant wart is a type of wart which is characterized by grainy and hard growths. It usually appears on the heels or balls of the feet. These warts can cause discomfort.

Common warts: These warts appear as rough and raised bumps and they usually happen on elbows, fingers or hands. In most cases, this type of wart is simply unsightly but also it can be painful because it is susceptible to bleeding or injury.

Genital warts: This type of wart appears as flat lesions, tiny stem – like protrusions or small cauliflower – like bumps. In women, genital warts appear mostly on the vulva but also they can happen in the vagina, on the cervix or near the anus. In men, genital warts happen around the anus, on the scrotum and penis. Genital warts in rare cases can cause pain or discomfort but they can itch.

Cervical cancer: People should be vaccinated against HPV infections because it can protect them from cervical cancer. Those people who are not vaccinated should know that the most cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV usually do not cause warts so women do not realize that they have been infected. It is known that the early stages of cervical cancer are not causing signs or symptoms. As the time passes, the repeated infection of certain HPV strains can lead to precancerous lesions. This is a reason why women should do regular Pap tests which can detect the precancerous changes in the cervix and they can lead to cancer.

If you or your child has warts of any kind which are causing you embarrassment, pain or discomfort, then you should talk with your doctor.

HPV Causes

This type of virus is passed from skin to skin through sexual intercourse or other forms of skin to skin contact of the genitals. The most HPV infections are benign and they are causing warts on areas of the body, such as genitals, feet and hands. Also there are some strains which put a person at a higher risk of developing certain types of cancers. This virus can affect all people who are sexually active. In many cases, the infected people are asymptomatic which means that they do not display symptoms of HPV.

In the most cases, HPV infections are resolving on themselves but in some cases they can remain dormant and later, they can infect the new or existing sexual partner. This virus can be transmitted to the infant during birth which can cause respiratory or genital infection. You should know that the strains of the HPV which cause warts are different from the group of HPV strains which cause cancer.

HPV Risk factors

Here are some factors which can increase your risk of getting HPV:

  • Having personal contact with warts or surfaces where HPV exposure has occurred
  • Having areas of damaged skin
  • Having a weakened immune system, for example, due to HIV or after having an organ transplant
  • Having sex with someone who has had several intimate partners
  • Having a higher number of intimate partners

HPV Complications

Here are some complications of HPV infection:

  • Upper and oral respiratory lesions: There are some studies in which are said that there are some HPV infections which can cause lesions on the soft palate, tonsils or tongue or within the nose or larynx.
  • Cancer: There are some strains of HPV which can cause cervical cancer. These strains can lead to cancer of upper respiratory tract, mouth, anus and genitals.


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