Understanding HPV Bumps: Types, Causes, and Treatment Options

Dinesh Patel
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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hpv bumps

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) bumps, commonly known as warts, are noncancerous growths that develop on the skin. 

These rough bumps form when the HPV virus enters a cut in the skin, causing an infection. 

While anyone can get warts, children are more susceptible due to frequent cuts, and individuals with weakened immune systems face a higher risk. 

This article will explore HPV bumps, their symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment options, complications, prevention, and living with warts.

Types of bumps

Warts on handSource: Asia_Images_Group
Warts on hand

HPV (human papillomavirus) bumps, commonly known as warts, can occur in different body parts.

There are many types of warts:

  • Common warts: These typically appear on the hands and fingers. They’re often rough, raised, and dome-shaped, with a surface that may resemble a cauliflower
  • Flat warts: Found on the face, forehead, or other flat areas of the body, these warts are smaller and smoother in appearance
  • Plantar warts: These warts develop on the soles of the feet and can be quite uncomfortable or even painful due to their location
  • Genital warts: Specifically found in the genital area (on the penis, vagina, or around the anus), these warts are linked to sexually transmitted HPV strains
Fact:
Genital warts are common, with approximately 360,000 people acquiring them each year.
  • Periungual and subungual warts: These warts form around or under the fingernails or toenails. They can distort the nail’s shape and texture

Symptoms of warts

The appearance of warts can vary. They might be:

  • Dome-shaped
  • Flat, rough, or smooth
  • Color may range from skin-colored to brown, gray, or black

While most warts are harmless and go away independently, some may persist or cause discomfort. 

Warning:
Certain high-risk HPV types have the potential to progress into cancer if they are not treated promptly. This dual nature of HPV underscores the importance of regular screenings, vaccinations, and early intervention. 

Causes of warts

couple hugging on bedSource: Getty_images
Sexual activity

Warts caused by HPV are highly contagious. 

These can spread through direct contact with an infected person or indirectly via objects contaminated with the virus. 

HPV transmission can occur through:

  • Sexual contact (for genital warts)
  • Sharing personal items like towels or razors
  • Touching surfaces harboring the virus
  • Through nail biting and cuticle picking

Diagnosis and treatment

Doctors can diagnose warts by visually examining the bumps. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be taken to test for HPV.

Treatment depends on various factors, including the type and location of the wart and the patient’s overall health. 

Healthcare experts may prescribe a treatment depending on the individual’s condition.

Over-the-counter wart removal medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) wart removal medications are easily accessible and often contain salicylic acid. 

This chemical works by dissolving warts layer by layer. These products come in various forms, such as liquid, gel, and patches. 

Consistent application over several months may be required for complete wart removal.

Recommended Article
To learn more about treatment options for HPV read, Navigating HPV Treatment: A Comprehensive Guide

Cryotherapy (freezing)

Cryotherapy applies liquid nitrogen to freeze the wart. 

This freezing process leads to the formation of a blister, and eventually, both the blister and the wart peel off. Multiple cryotherapy sessions may be necessary for effective treatment.

Immunotherapy

For persistent warts resistant to conventional treatments, immunotherapy serves as an option to stimulate the immune system. 

Topical chemicals like Diphencyprone (DCP) are applied, inducing a mild allergic reaction that prompts the immune system to eliminate the wart.

Laser treatment

Laser treatment employs focused light to heat and destroy tiny blood vessels within the wart. 

This method is useful for larger or stubborn warts.

Topical medicines (Cantharidin)

Cantharidin is a chemical used in topical medicines applied by healthcare professionals. After application, a blister forms beneath the wart, cutting off its blood supply. 

Patients typically return to the doctor’s office after about a week to have the dead wart removed.

Prevention of warts

While it may be challenging to eliminate the risk of warts, the following steps can significantly lower the likelihood of developing warts:

  • Refrain from shaving directly over warts to prevent potential virus spread
  • Break the habits of nail-biting and cuticle-picking, reducing openings for the virus
  • Avoid sharing personal items like towels, clothing, nail clippers, and razors to minimize transmission risk
  • Do not touch another person’s wart to prevent direct contact with the virus
  • Receive the HPV vaccine and use condoms to protect against genital warts and potential HPV transmission
  • Keep feet dry to lower the risk of spreading plantar warts, especially in moist environments
  • Refrain from scratching, cutting, or picking at warts to prevent further irritation and potential spread
  • Wear flip-flops or shoes in public locker rooms, pool areas, or showers to minimize exposure to the virus in shared environments

Conclusion

HPV bumps are noncancerous growths that manifest in various types, each with distinct characteristics and locations on the body. 

While most warts are harmless and may disappear on their own, some require attention and treatment due to persistent symptoms or discomfort.

Diagnosis of warts involves visual examination by a healthcare professional. In some cases, a skin biopsy may be conducted to confirm the presence of HPV. 

Treatment options vary, ranging from over-the-counter medications to more advanced approaches like cryotherapy, immunotherapy, laser treatment, and topical medicines. 

Getting the HPV vaccine and using condoms offer protection against genital warts and potential virus transmission.

In essence, living with warts involves a combination of preventive measures, early detection, and appropriate treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are HPV bumps?

HPV bumps, or warts, are noncancerous growths caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), manifesting on various body parts and often recognized by their distinct appearance. These growths, while usually harmless, can vary in types and characteristics, ranging from common warts on hands to genital warts in the genital area.

Are over-the-counter wart removal medications effective?

Yes, over-the-counter medications containing salicylic acid effectively remove warts layer by layer. Consistent application over several months is often necessary for complete removal.

What are the different types of warts, and where do they typically occur?

Various types of warts exist, such as common warts on hands, flat warts on the face, plantar warts on the soles of the feet, genital warts in the genital area, and periungual/subungual warts around or under fingernails/toenails.

How can one identify the symptoms of warts?

Warts can take on different shapes (dome-shaped, flat, rough, or smooth) and colors (skin-colored to brown, gray, or black), with most being harmless, but persistent or discomfort-inducing warts may require attention.

Citations:
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