Warts Don't Really Come From Frogs

Too Many Varieties To Choose From

There are more than 100 related human papillomaviruses (HPVs) and each one has the potential to cause some type of abnormal growth somewhere on the body. Genital warts and other lesions may erupt on or near the genitals or anus. Common warts may appear on the hands and plantar warts on the feet as well as warts and other lesions in the mouth and upper respiratory system.

HPV infections are quite common, with an estimated 25 million people in the US afflicted with HPV infections that can cause genital warts and related lesions. Some types of human papillomavirus can cause cancer of the genitals, cervix, uterus and anus as well as the mouth and throat-including the mouth and throat of a newborn baby.

Not All HPV Infections Lead To Cancer...

Not all infections lead to cancer and currently, treatments for HPV infections are primarily focused on the removal of warts and lesions that cause discomfort and embarrassment as well as those that may potentially become malignant. There is a vaccine available now which is designed to prevent the most common strains of HPV associated with both genital warts and cervical cancer.

Even though there are many people who have HPV and don't know it because they don't have any outward signs of the virus, there are signs and symptoms that do appear and also vary according to the type of HPV infection present. The most obvious symptom is genital warts, which are non-malignant and may appear as a flat lesion, a small cauliflower-like bump or a tiny stem-like protrusion. Most genital warts are caused by HPV types 6 and 11 infections and are not associated with cancer. These infections can appear on the vulva, anus, cervix or the vagina. In men they appear on the penis, scrotum or around the anus.

...But There Are Some That Do

Precancerous lesions are present with certain HPV infections that cause cellular changes. These abnormalities are frequently caught by a Pap test-a swab that is taken from the cervix or vagina and sent for examination. Low grade abnormalities often return to normal without treatment, however, high grade abnormalities are more likely to become something more serious and could advance to cancer. Of the HPV infections, types 16 and 18 are most likely to be cancer-causing.

Safe Sex?  Not Quite

Oral sex, while often thought of as "safe sex" actually isn't so safe at all. Oral and respiratory lesions may result from infections of HPV which form warts and lesions on the tongue, tonsils, soft palate and larynx as well as in the nose. Such lesions may result from low-risk HPV types 6 and 11 as well as high-risk types 16 and 18.

Cervical cancer and other types of tumors are most frequently caused by HPV virus infections. Types 16 and 18 of HPV as well as other high-risk types contribute to cancers of the genitals, anus, mouth and upper respiratory tract. Access to Pap testing is one of the most effective ways to arrest this type of cancer in women.

And Then There Are Those Regular Old Warts

Warts, be they common, plantar or flat, are all non-malignant skin growths that appear on the hands, feet or other parts of the body such as the face, neck, wrists, elbows and knees. These types of warts may cause discomfort and some pain and are often the result of childhood exposure to HPV.