HUMAN PAPILLOMA VIRUS INFECTION (CONDYLOMATA/ WARTS)
What is HPV?
HPV is a virus of the papillomavirus family that can infect human organism. Once it appears on the mucous membranes (genitals, anus, oral mucosa) it can result in warts or more severe infections that may lead to various forms of cancer (cervical cancer, penile cancer etc).
It is estimated that the greatest percentage of sexually active population worldwide are infected by HPV at some point in their lives, as it is spread through sexual contact. This virus is typically spread by sustained direct skin-to-skin contact , including oral and anal sex. It cannot be spread by the exchange of body fluids.
Women are more susceptible to HPV so they are infected to a greater extent and have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. Men are usually asymptomatic and the infections resolve without treatment (immunocompetence).
Warts (verrucae) can appear:
- In the oral cavity
- In the vulva
- In the vagina
- In the penis
- In the anus
Warts can be flat or slightly raised above the surrounding skin, the size of a pinhead or bigger. They can appear separate or in clusters. They normally have rough surface and a characteristic cauliflower-like shape, they are pink, nude or darker, often resembling moles.
External warts are usually diagnosed clinically by the Dermatologist- Venereologist. However, laboratory tests or PAP-test should be done in the case of internal warts so that the treating physician can ensure the prompt and accurate diagnosis. A basic medical examination that facilitates and guarantees the diagnosis of HPV and names the type of damage ratio is the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) that can be carried out by the doctor in the clinic, using specimens from the infected area.
Preventively: use of condoms reduces the risk of infection, but, sadly, it does not offer full protection.
Preventively: frequent palpation of the genital area for alterations.
Preventively: vaccination against HPV recommended before the onset of sexual activity, up to age 26.
Invasively: Ablation with Laser CO2 is the most modern method of removing warts, as it is simple, bloodless and accurate. Warts can be removed in one session, with local anesthetic, painlessly and scar-free. Sensitive areas are protected because the Laser CO2 beam targets only the infected area, leaning the surrounding tissue intact.
Invasively: Cryosurgery with liquid nitrogen. Warts freeze and neutralize.
Invasively: with LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure). Electricity through a slim cable loop excises like a “knife” the pathological tissue.
Invasively: with Cautery. Warts are cauterized with electricity.
Topically: with caustic creams applied on the lesion.