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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI). HPV can cause symptoms such as warts on or around the genitals and put a person at a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. There is no cure for HPV, so treatment focuses on managing the symptoms of this condition.
This article describes HPV, treatments, and when a person should see their doctor.
HPV is the most common STI in the world
HPV is a collection of over 200 related viruses. Researchers and doctors classify these viruses into two groups:
- Low risk HPV: This form of HPV often causes no symptoms and goes away independently. When symptoms occur, the virus typically shows up as a wart or near the genitals.
- High risk HPV: This form of HPV can cause cancer. The National Cancer Institute states that HPV16 and HPV18 are the most common causes of HPV-related cancer. About half of all HPV cases have high-risk variants.
The best treatment for HPV is prevention. The
Learn more about the HPV vaccine here.
When a person develops HPV, doctors cannot cure or treat the virus, but they can help treat genital warts.
Some people with HPV may not have symptoms. If a person thinks they are at risk of HPV, they can get a test at home or at a health clinic.
HPV usually does not require treatment. Most HPV cases go away on their own
Cryotherapy is a procedure in which a doctor freezes genital warts. According to a
Some doctors may recommend the use of trichloroacetic acid. Research suggests that the use of trichloroacetic acid for 15 days to 4 months is effective in treating oral lesions due to HPV. The researchers also found that people generally tolerated the treatment well.
However, trichloroacetic acid is very corrosive. Individuals should not treat HPV with this substance at home. If a doctor recommends the use of trichloroacetic acid, they will apply it themselves.
For home treatment, a doctor may recommend Condylox and Imiquimod. Even with treatment, genital warts return
Learn more about how long it takes for HPV to go away here.
There are two prescription treatments a person can use at home to treat HPV-related warts.
Please note that the author has not tested these products. All information is research based.
Imiquimod is a prescription cream used to treat genital warts. A person usually uses it once a day, three times a week for up to 16 weeks.
Individuals should never use this cream internally and should always wash off the medication according to the directions on the prescription.
A person should avoid intercourse while using imiquimod as it can weaken the strength of condoms, dams, and other barrier contraception methods.
Some online pharmacies, such as Blink Health, are offering imiquimod for sale. Individuals must have an existing prescription to purchase this drug.
Condylox (Podofilox) is a prescription solution that doctors can prescribe to treat genital warts. Individuals should follow their doctor’s instructions for using this treatment.
Usually, however, Condylox is used once in the morning and once in the evening every 12 hours for 3 days. If the warts don’t go away 4 days after the last treatment, people can repeat this process up to three times. Individuals should always wait 4 days between the last day of treatment and the next cycle.
People should avoid sexual intercourse during this treatment.
Some online pharmacies, such as Blink Health, offer Condylox for sale. Individuals must have an existing prescription to purchase this drug.
A person should speak to their doctor if they know or suspect that they may have HPV. A doctor can advise people if they need an STI test and determine if treatment is needed.
Doctors can prescribe drugs like Imiquimod or Condylox. Individuals can buy these from their pharmacies or use an online pharmacy service to deliver the drugs to their doors.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery, cryotherapy, or the use of trichloroacetic acid to treat genital warts. These treatments are only available from a person’s health care team.
Because some forms of HPV show no symptoms and some types can increase the risk of cancer, regular cancer screening is essential. A doctor can advise individuals on how regularly a person needs this procedure.
HPV is the most common STI in the world. HPV can be high or low risk. Some forms of HPV can cause genital warts.
A doctor can’t directly treat HPV, but they can manage a person’s symptoms. A doctor may recommend surgery, cryotherapy, or prescribe creams or solutions to get rid of genital warts at home.
The CDC recommends that all children 11 to 12 years of age or older receive their HPV vaccine to prevent this infection.