Navigating HPV Treatment: A Comprehensive Guide

Rishabh Mehta
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 treatment

HPV is contagious and spreads mainly through sexual contact, but non-sexual transmission is also possible. It is majorly asymptomatic, making it unnoticeable in most cases.

According to WHO, one million STI cases are reported daily. Out of these, HPV remains the most common. 

An infected person can recover from the infection on their own without knowing. HPV may not necessarily cause additional issues like cancer and warts.

If it leads to additional issues, seeking medical treatment is essential.

This article will cover all the possible HPV treatments that a healthcare professional may use depending on the symptoms while covering some preventive measures.

How to treat HPV virus

Despite being a common Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and widely researched, there is still no cure or particular treatment to ward off HPV.  

However, it usually goes away by itself within two years without causing trouble. 

Fact:
HPV causes 5 percent of cancers globally. These may include Penile cancer, Cervical cancer and Oropharyngeal cancer.

If symptoms arise, a doctor may use the following treatments in case of:

Warts

Warts on handSource: Asia_Images_Group
Warts on hand

Warts can appear on different body parts because of HPV. These are treated primarily with medications. Some of them are:

  • Salicylic acid: Over-the-counter treatment with Salicylic acid can treat warts. It works by removing layers of skin when applied directly to the affected area
  • Trichloroacetic acid: This chemical treatment burns warts on the soles, genital area, and palms
  • Retinoids: Topical and systemic retinoids are effective in treating cutaneous viral warts. A doctor can suggest a topical cream containing retinoids to prevent cell growth in warts, mainly if other topical treatments fail
  • Imiquimod: This medication improves the body’s ability to fight infection and build immunity. It is mainly prescribed for genital warts
  • Podofilox: It works by destroying the wart tissue and is used in the case of genital warts. It can cause itching and a burning sensation when applied
Recommended Article
To know more about the HPV types in detail, read HPV Types: A Detailed Classification Based on Numerous Varieties

Besides medications, warts can be treated with:

  • Electrocautery:  The process involves the use of electric current to burn warts
  • Surgical removal: A wart is cut out or scraped using an instrument
  • Laser removal: In this procedure, wart is destroyed with a laser beam
  • Cryotherapy: It involves freezing the wart tissue using liquid nitrogen and removing it

Cervical lesions

Doctors monitor HPV in the cervix by Colposcopy. 

In this process, a Colposcope is used to get a magnified view of the cervix, and a biopsy (taking samples of abnormalities observed) is performed.

Based on the requirement, a doctor may perform:

  • Surgical removal
  • Laser removal
  • Cold knife conization (surgery to remove a cone-shaped piece of the cervix)
  • LEEP (Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure is a surgical method to remove a thin layer of a section of the cervix using thin looped wire heated by electric current)

HPV prevention

Being aware of the treatment options is not enough. Preventive measures are also vital when dealing with any health issue. 

Here are certain things to practice to prevent HPV:

HPV vaccine

The HPV vaccine is the best preventive measure as it gives up to 90 percent protection against HPV-caused cancers. It is best to get vaccinated for HPV at the age of 11-12 years. 

Although, vaccination can start at the age of 9. Anyone of the age 26 or under can get vaccinated. 27-45 years old need to consult a doctor before getting vaccinated.

FDA has approved Gardasil 9 for HPV prevention for nine years and above. It is important to note that the vaccine works to prevent the infection and will not help after acquiring HPV. 

Pregnant individuals and those allergic to Gardasil or Gardasil 9 should avoid HPV vaccination.

Warning:
Untreated HPV in the cervix can turn into cervical cancer. Prioritize consultation with a healthcare professional for its treatment.

Use mechanical barriers during sex

use condomsSource: Signature_images
Use condoms

Use condoms and dental dams while having sex to avoid direct skin-to-skin contact. They will not offer 100 percent protection but lower the risk of HPV transmission.

One must avoid using the same condom for oral and vaginal sex.

Strengthen the immune system

Our immune system acts as a barrier to all infections and diseases. An improved immune system will help in fighting and clearing HPV infections efficiently.

One way to achieve this is a balanced diet with a significant amount of vitamin B12 and folate. These nutrients can help in protecting against HPV.

Ditching smoking, junk food, and alcohol consumption is also advisable as a prevention measure.

Conclusion

HPV is a common STI affecting 85 percent of people in their lifetime. It can cause several types of cancers, including penile cancer, cervical cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, and warts.

Currently, there is no particular cure for HPV. It mostly takes two years to go away on its own without symptoms.

If symptoms appear, a doctor can use multiple treatments based on the symptoms.

While warts are treated primarily by medications containing Salicylic acid, Retinoids, podofilox, etc, sometimes surgical or laser removal is also required.

In case of cervical abnormalities due to HPV, LEEP, and cold knife conization can be used if deemed correct by medical experts.

To prevent HPV, one must get vaccinated and practice mindful sex habits like using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best treatment for HPV?

There is no treatment for HPV. The best precaution is to get vaccinated before turning 26. Other treatments for HPV depend on the symptoms. Surgery, laser, cold knife conization, medications, and electrocautery are a few treatments a doctor uses after assessing the problem.

How long does HPV take to clear?

Most cases of HPV clear out naturally within two years. They do not need any treatment and barely show symptoms and additional health problems. Sometimes, the infection lasts for decades and can cause other serious medical issues like cervical cancer, penile cancer, and lesions. 

Can HPV be cured permanently?

There is no way to cure HPV, but it can go away permanently on its own in most cases. Some strains may not go away entirely and resurface over time. Moreover, it is hard to determine whether the infection has left the body or it is dormant.

Can I treat HPV myself?

In most cases, there is no need to treat HPV as it clears up on its own within two years. You might not even notice any symptoms, but if you do spot warts, you will need the guidance of a medical expert for the required treatment.

Citations:
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