HPV: human papillomavirus, what it is and how to treat it

The most common infection that affects almost 90% of people on earth is called HPV or human papilloma virus. Having discovered a papilloma, no one sounds the alarm, because among the people they are considered to be ordinary warts. Get rid of them only if they interfere or have a cosmetic defect. The disease is "human" and is transmitted only from a patient to a healthy one: in everyday life, through touch, through the reproductive system, during childbirth from mother to baby. The disease can manifest itself on the skin or mucous membranes in the form of warts, papillomas or condylomas. Let's find out what HPV is and how dangerous it is for humans.

papilloma on the skin

What is HPV?

The virus lives in almost all people. HPV germs are so small that they can enter the bloodstream through abrasions, scratches, and small cuts in the skin. It may not manifest at all throughout the wearer's lifetime, or it may constantly show itself in all its glory. The incubation period can vary from a few weeks to several years. The signal for action is the weakening of the immune system. If papillomas appear on the skin and mucous membranes, then the body needs urgent treatment.

There are more than 70 types of human papillomavirus, but several new strains are reported each year. Conventionally, all types of HPV infection can be divided into two groups.

Warts are viruses that cause the development of warts on the body.

  • HPV types 1, 2, 3, 4 cause the formation of plantar warts or calluses;
  • HPV types 3, 10, 28, 49 are responsible for the appearance of flat warts;
  • HPV type 27 forms "butcher's warts";
  • HPV: 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19-24, 26, 27, 29, 57 - also develop warts.

Papilloma: viruses that cause the formation of papillomas and warts.

  • HPV 6. 11, 13, 16, 18, 31, 33, 31, 33, 58, 52, 39, 70, 30, 40, 42, 43, 51, 55, 57, 59, 61, 62, 64, 67 -69

What is the danger of HPV?

Why in recent years have doctors been sounding the alarm and trying to educate the public about HPV disease? Because the percentage of cancer patients who have been diagnosed with this virus is increasing considerably. Not only women with uterine cancer suffer, but also men with oncology of the male genital organs. The number of skin cancers among the elderly is also on the rise.

Of course, there are types of HPV that do not affect the internal health of a person, but their manifestations in the form of papillomas and warts are uncomfortable. They are classified as having low oncogenicity: minimal risk of developing cancer. Such formations are easily removed by folk methods or aesthetic medicine. But the virus itself is not treated in any way or with drugs. If a person becomes infected, they carry the virus for their entire life.

Other subspecies of papillomavirus infection belong to the group with high oncogenicity, that is, they can affect the formation of malignant neoplasms in the body.

There are 3 types of its oncogenicity:

  • Low cancer risk HPV: 6, 11, 40, 42, 43, 44, 54, 61, 70;
  • Medium cancer risk HPV: 26, 31, 33, 35, 51, 52, 53, 58, 66;
  • High-risk HPV: 16, 18, 36, 39, 45, 56, 59, 66, 68.

Diseases and types of HPV

Below we provide a list of types of papillomavirus.

Skin lesions:

  • Warts on the sole of the foot (corns) 1, 2, 4
  • Common warts 2, 4, 26, 27, 29, 57
  • Flat warts 3, 10, 28, 49
  • wart butcher 7
  • Epidermodysplasia veruciformis 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20-25, 36, 37, 46, 47, 50

Injuries of the mucous membranes of the genital organs:

  • Genital warts 6, 11, 42-44, 54
  • Epithelial lesions without invasion of other layers (intraepithelial lesions) can be precancerous 62, 64, 67-70
  • Cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, and penis 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 54, 56, 66, 68

Non-genital mucosal lesions:

  • Oral mucosal lesions (focal epithelial hyperplasia) 13, 32
  • Recurrent papillomatosis of the airways 6, 11, 30
  • Malignant neoplasms of the head, neck, lungs 2, 6, 11, 16, 18, 30

Types of viral skin lesions

Most types of human papillomavirus infection are asymptomatic. The external manifestations of the disease are different, here are some types:

common warts

common warts

The most common form of HPV is warts. Almost every person can find a similar papule with a diameter of no more than 5-7 mm on his body. Warts are usually located on the outside of the palm of the hand, between the fingers, on the soles of the feet, on the chin, eyelids, and scalp. Warts can grow in size and also form colonies from the maternal papule. Then they can cause discomfort - itching and tingling in the places of growth.

The most "sick" are plantar warts, their common name is "thorns". When walking, they put pressure on the nerve endings, which causes severe pain. It is recommended that such growths be surgically removed in clinics. Simple warts are not a threat to human health, they almost never turn into oncological tumors.

butcher's warts

butcher's warts

Butcher's warts look like multiple thick threads protruding from a single growth. It is most often found on the fingers, especially in places of cuts. Long filiform papules bring inconvenience to their owner, since these formations do not look aesthetically pleasing. They can bleed when bumped or scratched. Although in the oncological sense, such warts are safe, but their damage will lead to problems. The recommendation of the doctors is to remove it without fail.

flat warts

flat warts

Flat warts are also called "teenage warts" because they often appear during adolescence. They look like a large grouped dry rash on the skin. Covers forehead, cheeks, chin, forearms. The color cannot differ from the skin or be slightly darker.

butcher's warts

butcher warts

Butcher's warts are warty, scarred growths the color of normal skin. They can be both individual and in clusters of several pieces. The name of these wart growths was given by the professional activities of butchers. We can say that this type of infection is an occupational disease of the meat industry.

Epidermodysplasia verruciformis

epidermodysplasia verruciformis in HPV

This disease can be confused with pityriasis versicolor, so it is necessary to consult a specialist. It is hereditarily transmitted, but it is very rare in the form of dermatosis. Outwardly, it looks like an accumulation of flat scaly rashes and age spots. The main localization sites are the face, neck and hands. Unfortunately, this form of wart disease can turn into cancer.

periungual warts

periungual warts

Warts located near the nail destroy the nail plate. They grow deep into the skin and deform the finger. They do not turn into evil formations, but this does not make them any less undesirable. Surgery is necessary both for aesthetic reasons and for the health of the fingers.

Bowen's disease

Bowen's disease with HPV

This form of HPV tends to degenerate into squamous cell carcinoma. When the skin is damaged, a redness 5 mm in size forms, which grows and becomes covered with crusts. The upper layer of the epidermis is affected, the growth can be up to 5 cm in diameter. It is more frequent in the elderly, since the immune defenses are reduced.

Genital warts

Genital warts

This type of HPV is sexually transmitted, and therefore affects the genitals of men and women, as well as the mucous membranes of the urinary system and the anus. The appearance of the formations resembles a cauliflower or a cockscomb. Genital warts can also appear at the corners of the mouth due to oral sex. Growths must be removed, since during friction it is possible to injure them and cause infection.

papillomas in the oropharynx

clear throat and papillomas in the pharynx

HPV infection in the mouth is also similar to cauliflower. The white plaques can descend into the lungs and trachea, making it difficult for a person to breathe. You can damage the papilloma while eating, which in turn can lead to cancer. Since a malignant tumor cannot be distinguished from a benign one, tests are necessary before removing the plates.

Blooming papillomatosis can be not only in the elderly. The disease occurs in children and adults. The main signs of laryngeal papillomatosis are dysphonia (speech disorder) and aphonia (inability to speak), hoarseness and shortness of breath.

treatment methods

Today there are no methods to get rid of papillomavirus infection. Therefore, the treatment is reduced to the removal of external formations and the suppression of the virus in the patient's body. There are cases when some types of the virus die on their own in the body for several years. The doctor determines what methods and preparations to use for treatment only on the basis of the diagnosis, tests and external examination of the patient.

destructive methods:

  • surgical excision (cutting) of the wart/papilloma (used only if a malignant lesion is suspected);
  • electrocoagulation - cauterization of the formation with a coagulator through which an electric current passes;
  • cryodestruction - the destruction of the wart with liquid nitrogen;
  • laser treatment - the impact on the formation of a laser beam;
  • radio wave method - exposure to a wart / papilloma using the Surgitron apparatus.

Chemical treatments:

  • cauterization with salicylic acid;
  • education processing trichloroacetic acid 50-90% concentration;
  • a mixture of acids - treatment with an educational preparation (efficiency is very low).

To activate the immune system and suppress HPV, drugs with antiviral and immunomodulatory effects should be included in the therapy.

disease prevention

It is quite difficult to avoid getting the HPV virus, because you can get infected in a bathhouse, a swimming pool, when using ordinary household items, in a hospital. But these strains are mild and do not cause cancer. Prevention usually comes down to personal hygiene, prompt treatment of cuts and injuries with antibacterial agents, and wearing protective gear while on the job.

Special attention should be paid to the prevention of sexually transmitted virus. Protecting your body with condoms is unlikely to be successful. A viral infection in a partner can be localized near the genitals and in the mouth. The best way to avoid infection is prior vaccination. The vaccines should be administered to girls and boys before the onset of sexual activity at the age of 11 to 13 years. Immunity lasts 3-5 to 10 years and depends on the vaccine and the type of virus. Vaccination can then be repeated if there is a risk of infection (change of sexual partner).

High-risk oncogenic HPVs can cause changes in the tissues and give rise to an oncological process. But several years pass between the first signs and the development of cancer. Therefore, it is so important to have annual medical examinations with a doctor, especially for women. Regular gynecological examination reveals changes in both the external genital organs and the cervix. Watch your health!