Navigating Facial Warts: A Comprehensive Guide to HPV on the Face

Dinesh Patel
Medically reviewed by
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 on the face

Human Papillomavirus is a group of viruses that can affect various body parts, including the face. 

While HPV is commonly associated with genital warts, it can manifest in different forms on the skin, leading to warts on the face.

One such manifestation is filiform and flat warts, which can appear on the face and other body parts. 

Flat or juvenile warts are small, smooth, and benign bumps commonly appearing on the face and hands.

Filiform warts tend to stand alone and are known for their presence on sensitive facial areas like the lips, eyelids, and neck.  

This article will explore the causes, risk factors, and treatment options for HPV on the face.

What do warts look like

Flat warts are characterized by their small size, typically 1 to 5 millimeters, and their flat, smooth appearance. 

They are often skin-colored, though they can be yellow, brown, or pinkish, and found on the face and neck.

Fact:
Flat warts can appear on the face or neck through shaving when the razor nicks the skin, providing an entry point for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). 

Filiform warts are distinct, appearing as long, narrow projections found predominantly on the lips, eyelids, neck, fingers, and legs. 

These warts can spread rapidly to other body parts, exhibiting their slender and singular structure.

Causes of warts on the face

The primary cause of flat warts is HPV, which thrives in warm and damp environments. 

Strains 3, 10, 28, and 49 of HPV are responsible for flat warts, and they are noncancerous. 

Filiform warts caused by specific strains of HPV, namely 1, 2, and 7, are generally painless but may lead to discomfort if they develop in sensitive areas like skin folds. 

Recommended Article
HPV can cause warts in the mouth too.
To know about the HPV in mouth, read Understanding HPV in Mouth: Symptoms, Causes, Transmission, and Complications

Risk factors

couple on bed holding handsSource: March_Sirawit_Hengthabthim's_Images
Sexual activity

HPV transmission occurs through skin-to-skin contact or sexual activity.

Other risk factors include:

  • Coming into contact with objects contaminated by HPV
  • Having open cuts or scrapes
  • Practicing poor hygiene
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • Warm and moist skin environments
Warning:
To prevent the transmission of warts, refrain from sharing clothing, towels, or other personal items with other people. Practice good hygiene and keep personal items to yourself to minimize the risk of contracting or spreading warts.

Diagnosis of facial warts

Doctor consultationSource: Rido
Doctor consultation

Warts are typically diagnosed through visual inspection by a dermatologist or healthcare professional. 

The distinct appearance of warts often allows for a straightforward diagnosis based on their characteristic features. 

If the diagnosis isn’t certain or if there’s suspicion of a different skin condition, a biopsy may be recommended.

Depending on the situation, the dermatologist numbs the area and removes a small portion of the entire wart during a biopsy.

The biopsy will examine the tissue sample to confirm the presence of feature of a wart caused by HPV.

Treatment options

The treatment for HPV on the face depends on the size, location, and type of warts. Treatment options include:

Filiform warts

Filiform warts typically respond well to physical removal methods or cryotherapy using liquid nitrogen. 

Here’s a step-by-step overview based on the provided information:

  • Physical removal: Using a scalpel, scissors, or curettage, the filiform wart can be physically excised or removed
  • Liquid nitrogen Cryotherapy: The application of liquid nitrogen to the wart area causes freezing and subsequent blistering, which aids in removing the wart. The skin typically thaws within 10 to 20 seconds
  • Post-treatment care: After liquid nitrogen treatment, patients might experience blistering within 24 to 48 hours. Additionally, cautiousness is crucial when treating sensitive areas like the face and neck due to hypopigmentation or hyperpigmentation in the skin

Flat warts

Flat warts present unique challenges due to their stubborn nature and location, often requiring a more prolonged and diverse approach for effective treatment. 

The following options are commonly used:

  • Topical retinoids: Daily application of Tretinoin (retinoic acid 0.05% cream) is the primary treatment for flat warts. This helps in exfoliation and removal of the warts
  • Combination therapies: If Tretinoin alone isn’t sufficient, it can be combined with other agents like 5% benzoyl peroxide or 5% SCA cream
  • Immunomodulators: Imiquimod 5% cream can be used independently or with topical agents to stimulate the immune response and aid in wart elimination
  • Chemical agents: Topical 5-fluorouracil 1% or 5% cream can be employed as an alternative treatment for flat warts, aiming to destroy the wart tissue

Conclusion

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can manifest on the face in the form of flat warts and filiform warts, each with distinctive characteristics. 

While flat warts are small, smooth, and often skin-colored, filiform warts appear as long, narrow projections. They are commonly found in sensitive facial areas. 

Transmission occurs through skin-to-skin contact, and risk factors include contact with contaminated objects, open cuts, poor hygiene, and a weakened immune system.

Diagnosis is typically based on visual inspection, but a biopsy may be recommended in uncertain cases.

Treatment options for facial warts vary, including topical medications, cryotherapy, electrosurgery, and laser therapy. 

Additionally, home remedies may be considered with caution. 

It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment based on the size, location, and type of warts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you have HPV on your face?

Yes, it is possible to have HPV on your face. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can manifest on various body parts, including the face. Flat warts and filiform warts are common types of facial warts caused by specific strains of HPV.

Do HPV warts on the face go away?

Yes, HPV warts on the face can go away with appropriate treatment. Treatment options include topical medications, cryotherapy, electrosurgery, laser therapy, and, in some cases, home remedies. The effectiveness of treatment may vary based on the warts’ size, type, and location. 

Is HPV a pimple?

No, HPV is not a pimple. HPV is a group of viruses, and its manifestation on the skin often results in the formation of warts rather than pimples. At the same time, pimples are typically caused by factors such as clogged pores and bacterial infection. 

Are face warts normal?

Yes, face warts can be considered normal, as they are a common manifestation of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Warts are generally noncancerous and can appear on various body parts, including the face. While the presence of face warts is not uncommon, they can cause discomfort for individuals.

Citations:
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