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HPV Treatment: Warts, Genital Warts, Cervical Dysplasia
HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, is a common DNA virus from the Papillomaviridae family that passes through skin-to-skin contact. In most conditions, HPV infection is symptomless and resolves spontaneously within two years. Rarely do the symptoms persist and result in warts and precancerous lesions on the cervix and throat; there are 100 types of HPV, out of which 14 strains, mainly types 6, 11, 16, and 18, are considered risky strains.
Treatment of HPV depends on the type of systemic complication the virus has caused, with its severity and associated compilations.
Treatment for Warts
Most non-genital warts go away without any treatment. But in conditions where they persist, home remedies and over-the-counter treatment options help mitigate them significantly. Some of these remedies are
Over-the-counter Salicylic acid is a keratolytic therapy that, after being absorbed, peels away the epidermis to remove the wart gradually. You can obtain salicylic acid as an ointment, patch, or liquid form.
OTC freezing medications like Dr. Scholl's Dual Action Freeze Away wart remover contain a mixture of liquid nitrogen and salicylic acid to freeze warts off and remove them in a dual-action manner.
In this method, you are advised to apply duct tape at the wart region every 4-7 days, then remove the tape, clean the area with soap and water, and remove the dead skin using an emery board, followed by repeating the procedure 12 hours later.
Studies have shown the duct tape method to have an 85% effectiveness rate compared to an efficiency of 65% with cryo.
When home remedies or OTC treatments don't produce satisfactory results, dermatologists further evaluate the affected area or perform a biopsy to examine better the affected skin's histopathology. The American Academy of Dermatology counsels on the following clinical methods for non-genital wart removal.
After administering general or local anesthesia to the person, the surgeon scrapes off the wart with a sharp surgical knife or small spoon-shaped tool.
The dermatologist uses liquid nitrogen to freeze warts and cause them to fall off.
Cantharidin is a vesicant or a blister agent that causes a blister to form on the wart to make it easier for the wart to come off.
Electrosurgery and Curettage
In this method, the dermatologist applies a metal probe with current to the wart to burn it off. Local anesthetic is used to numb the treatment spot so you don't feel any pain during the procedure.
Genital warts result from infection by the HPV 6 viral strain and are more common in females than males. They can occur separately or in clusters. While most genital warts are found on the external anal or genital area, like the penile shaft, scrotum, or outer regions of the vagina, a few can be found internally in the deeper vaginal layers, anal or cervix regions.
Treatment options for genital warts include
Topical Agents are the first line of treatment advised for genital wart treatment and are more popular than other treatment methods because of their self-application and painless acting mechanism. Some of these agents are −
Podophyllotoxin works on the mitotic spindles of wart cells to work on the cell cycle of the epidermis and reduce the intensity of the size of warts. It is available in solution, gel, and cream form. Dermatologists advise applying it on alternate days for the best results.
Imiquimod belongs to the immune response modifier group of medications that increases the activity of the immune system to treat genital warts. Studies have shown a 77% effectiveness in people using Iminiquod, with a 49% improvement within the first four weeks.
Sinecatechins inhibit the proteins causing cell growth and block the kinases causing tumor cell signaling to reduce the intensity of genital warts effectively. Clinical trials have shown that sinecatechin topical application results in complete clearance of genital warts in 53-57% of people within 16 weeks of treatment.
For internally located genital warts, dermatologists advise methods like
Treatment of Precancerous Cervical Dysplasia
Precancerous Cervical Dysplasia or intraepithelial lesion is an abnormality in the cervix cells that, left untreated, can progress into cervical cancer and metastasize into other areas. The early stages of precancerous cervical dysplasia are symptomless. In the later stages, patients experience symptoms like abnormal vaginal discharge, Vaginal bleeding after intercourse, and a foul odor in the genital regions.
Clinicians advise the following treatment options for Precancerous Cervical Dysplasia.
The surgeon uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy abnormal cancerous cells in this method. In 85-90% of cases, the abnormal cell growth is completely reversed using the Cryosurgery procedure.
Dermatologists conduct a cone-shaped incision in the cervical region to remove the cervical lesion or sample of abnormal tissue from the cervix.
Laser Treatment involves using a laser beam to destroy abnormal cervical cells and allow normal cervical cells to grow in their place.
Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure uses a wire loop heated by electric current to remove abnormal cells and tissues in the cervical region.
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