What You Should Know About HPV Symptoms

skin wart

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  • The truth is that HPV, in most cases, does not have any noticeable symptoms
  • Be warned that the symptoms of this infection usually do not manifest immediately — rather, they can appear weeks, months or even years after you have been infected

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is quite different from other viral infections, particularly the symptoms that may arise from this condition. Be warned that the symptoms of this infection usually do not manifest immediately — rather, they can appear weeks, months or even years after you have been infected with the virus.1

Sometimes, HPV Does Not Have Any Indicators at All

The truth is that HPV, in most cases, does not have any noticeable symptoms. In fact, in 90 percent of HPV cases, the virus clears up on its own, without treatment, within two years (or less) without you even knowing you had it. This is because your immune system is able to subdue the infection before it causes further damage to your body.

However, if the virus persists, then HPV symptoms may arise, the most common of which are warts.2 Since not all HPVs cause warts, other symptoms, such as cancerous or precancerous lesions, may appear if the infections persist for a long time, particularly in mucosal tissues such as the cervix, vagina or anus.3 In women, one of the first signs that an HPV infection has developed into an issue that needs treatment may be when her gynecologist or physician finds it during a pelvic exam or Pap test.

Warts: The Hallmark Symptom of Human Papillomavirus Infection

Over 200 different HPV strains have been identified, with each designated by a number, known as the HPV “type.” Some types, like HPV 11 and HPV 6, are linked to the appearance of warts. Meanwhile, HPV types 16 and 18 are among those not known to cause warts; rather, they can cause lesions which put you at risk of certain cancers. When warts develop they often vary both in appearance and where they appear on the body. Here are the most common types:4

Flat warts: These lesions are darker than your skin, and are flat-topped and slightly raised. Flat warts can appear anywhere, but men usually get them in the beard area (as this is prone to cuts and nicks during shaving), while in women, they’re usually found on the legs.

Plantar warts: Identified as hard, grainy growths, these are usually found growing on the heels of your feet. They can cause discomfort especially when walking, running or moving around.

Common warts. These rough, raised bumps are often seen on the elbows, hands and fingers. They are usually unsightly. In some cases, they can be painful or prone to bleeding or injury.

Genital warts. Caused by any of over 40 types of HPV strains, these warts are contagious and may be passed on through skin-to-skin sexual contact. Anal, vaginal or oral sex can pass on the HPV that causes these warts, and in rare instances, may be passed on from a mother to a newborn during childbirth.5

Genital warts can appear as small, stem-like protrusions, flat lesions or cauliflower-like bumps. In women, they can appear on the vagina, cervix, vulva and anus; in men, these warts are seen on the penis and scrotum or around the anal region. While they rarely cause pain, they can be itchy.6 When passed on through oral sex, genital warts may affect the mouth and throat, known as oral HPV, and manifest symptoms such as:7

Hoarseness

Earache

Sore throat that does not go away

Pain when swallowing

Swollen lymph nodes

Unexpected weight loss

Even Without Symptoms, HPV Can Still Be Infectious

Remember that HPV can be passed on even though you do not see any symptoms. For this reason, HPV can be spread to other people without the carrier realizing it. This is why it’s often difficult to pinpoint exactly when and from whom the infection was acquired.

MORE ABOUT HPV

HPV: Introduction

What Is HPV?

Oral HPV

How Is HPV Transmitted?

HPV Vaccine

HPV in Men

HPV in Women

HPV Types

HPV Causes

HPV Symptoms

HPV Warts

HPV Treatment

HPV Test

How to Get Rid of HPV

Living with HPV

Does HPV Go Away?

How Do You Get HPV?

Is HPV Curable?

Is HPV Contagious?

How Long Does HPV Last?

HPV FAQ

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