HPV, or the “Human Papillomavirus,” can produce genital warts and lead to a variety of other health concerns, including cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. The virus has more than 100 different types, with types 16 and 18 the cause of most of the problems when it comes to cervical abnormalities. The virus is located in the flat, thin cells of the skin, known as the epithelial cells. HPV affects these cells in the genitals and surrounding areas. Warts produced by the virus can be found on the head, in the mouth, throat, anus, vagina, cervix, vulva and penis. They can be found singly or in small clusters.
The two main symptoms associated with the HPV virus are itching and the appearance of small warts. Many people have the virus for several months before any symptoms appear. In some cases, irritation and itching may be present long before tell-tale warts make an appearance. Women often find out they have HPV at their yearly pelvic exam.
The best way to treat human papillomavirus is to prevent it. To avoid HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases, women should abstain from having unprotected sex with multiple partners. With the Gardisil vaccine, women and teens have a new weapon to help prevent the spread of the HPV virus. Although there is no cure for the virus, the outbreaks can be controlled, limiting the spread of the virus to others. Treatment can also include boosting the immune system to protect against flare-ups. If warts are present, the doctor will often remove them.
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