Looking to get tested? See the At Home HPV Test Kit
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a name given to a group of about 100 related viruses. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease and is much more common than you might think.
There is currently no cure for the HPV infection. However, for most people, HPV can be cleared on its own through the body’s immune system and there are treatments that can help deal with symptoms. If it doesn’t clear up on its own, there is now a vaccine to protect yourself against new infections of HPV. New recorded strains have been known to cause genital warts or cancer.
Why don’t antibiotics work?
Since HPV is a viral infection, it is resistant to antibiotics. This means HPV cannot be treated by medication designed to treat bacterial infections. As of now, there are no antiviral medications that have been approved to treat HPV. That means that you need to be ready to balance your options.
Can you get rid of warts from HPV?
Yes, it is possible to get rid of symptoms associated with HPV. Genital, yet painless, warts can appear when low-risk HPV causes abnormal changes in the body’s skin cells. Listed below are a number of methods available to treat symptoms:
· Topical Treatments: your doctor can prescribe creams or other liquid solutions. These solutions typically contain podophyllotoxin, which is a plant extract with antiviral properties. These treatments are applied directly to the wart, and keep the virus from spreading.
· Cryotherapy: visible warts can be frozen off. A doctor will apply liquid nitrogen directly to the affected area. After initial treatment, the skin around the wart will begin to blister and heal over with 7-14 days.
· Acid: trichloroacetic acid can be used to treat visible warts. This acid is applied to the wart by a trained medical professional. The acid is used to burn off the wart by destroying the proteins in the wart’s cells. The process is repeated weekly until the wart is completely gone, which can take anywhere from 6-10 weeks.
· Surgical Removal: In more extreme cases, visible warts may be removed by excision. After the wart is removed, the skin is stitched back together. Surgical removal is typically a last resort if other treatments do not work.
· Electrocautery: this is when genital warts are burned off using a low-voltage probe. An anesthetic is typically applied to manage pain during the procedure. This method typically takes 2-4 weeks to heal.
· Laser Removal: Some warts can be treated with laser removal. The lasers pulse the warts with light. The laser’s light heats up the red blood cells in the wart and destroys them, which deprives the wart of blood, thus eventually killing it. The method of laser removal can cause mild pain and takes around 2-4 weeks to heal. This method is relatively new, so its effectiveness is not known.
Do not use over-the-counter treatments on genital warts. Attempts in using over the counter treatments could result in your symptoms getting worse or cause permanent damage. Please contact a healthcare professional to receive treatment.
Can you get rid of HPV flare-ups permanently?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. You cannot get rid of flare-ups without getting rid of the infection. The treatments noted above are all effective in temporarily removing growths. However, these forms of removal do not treat the underlying infection. This means warts can flare up again. The only way to permanently stop flare-ups is to wait for your immune system to clear the HPV from your body.
How often do flare-ups happen?
Flare-ups may happen every several months.
How can I avoid flare-ups?
There is no evidence that shows herpes or asthma can cause HPV flare-ups.
Can HPV go away on its own?
It’s possible for HPV to clear up naturally. In fact, 90% of new HPV infections will clear up naturally. Strong immune systems will help HPV clear even quicker. There are lifestyle changes you can make that will help in boosting your immune system. Things such as diet and exercise are very helpful your body clear an HPV infection. Smoking tobacco products can negatively impact your recovery time.
Read about the effects of HPV in men here.
Can the HPV vaccine cure HPV?
The HPV vaccine will not cure existing HPV infections. The HPV is a preventative measure, meaning it will stop future infections if you are already infected however, it won’t kill the virus.
With myLAB Box, STD testing is easy and pain-free. If you are concerned you may have contracted an STD you can purchase an at-home STD test here.
- Kari P Braaten, MD, MPH and Marc R Laufer. (2008). Human Papillomavirus (HPV), HPV-Related Disease, and the HPV Vaccine. Rev Obstet Gynecol.
- Chee Kai Chan, Gulzhanat Aimagambetova, Talshyn Ukybassova, Kuralay Kongrtay, and Azliyati Azizan. (2019). Human Papillomavirus Infection and Cervical Cancer: Epidemiology, Screening, and Vaccination—Review of Current Perspectives. Journal of Oncology.
- Simona Roxana Georgescu, Cristina Iulia Mitran, Madalina Irina Mitran, Constantin Caruntu, Maria Isabela Sarbu, Clara Matei, Ilinca Nicolae, Sandra Milena Tocut, Mircea Ioan Popa, and Mircea Tampa. (2018). New Insights in the Pathogenesis of HPV Infection and the Associated Carcinogenic Processes: The Role of Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress. Journal of Immunology Research.
- Jill Jin, MD, MPH. (2018). HPV Infection and Cancer. JAMA.
- Daning Wang, Xinlin Liu, Minxi Wei, Ciying Qian, Shuo Song, Jie Chen, Zhiping Wang, Qin Xu, Yurou Yang, Maozhou He, Xin Chi, Shiwen Huang, Tingting Li, Zhibo Kong, Qingbing Zheng, Hai Yu, Yingbin Wang, Qinjian Zhao, Jun Zhang, Ningshao Xia, Ying Gu & Shaowei Li. (2020). Rational design of a multi-valent human papillomavirus vaccine by capsomere-hybrid co-assembly of virus-like particles. Nature Communications.
- Bin Zhu, Yanzi Xiao, Meredith Yeager, Gary Clifford, Nicolas Wentzensen, Michael Cullen, Joseph F. Boland, Sara Bass, Mia K. Steinberg, Tina Raine-Bennett, DongHyuk Lee, Robert D. Burk, Maisa Pinheiro, Lei Song, Michael Dean, Chase W. Nelson, Laurie Burdett, Kai Yu, David Roberson, Thomas Lorey, Silvia Franceschi, Philip E. Castle, Joan Walker, Rosemary Zuna, Mark Schiffman & Lisa Mirabello. (2020). Mutations in the HPV16 genome induced by APOBEC3 are associated with viral clearance. Nature Communications.
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