Are you worried you might have an HPV infection? There are over 100 human papillomavirus (HPV) strains exist so it good to know what the symptoms are. Even though most HPV transmissions occur from intimate skin-to-skin activity during sex, you can still become infected by sharing objects, touching hands, or exchanging blood with an HPV-infected person.
The good news is that in most cases, your immune system usually eradicates an HPV infection within two years of transmission. But you should still be aware of the infection as soon as possible because treatments are available to prevent it from growing into something worse, such as cervical cancer.
Here are the top 10 signs of an HPV infection that should prompt you to seek testing and treatment from a gynecologist or primary care physician.
1) Genital Warts
Most HPV-infected people do not experience any symptoms. But when they do, genital warts are usually the symptom they experience.
HPV genital warts are a visible indicator of an infection. They appear as small flat or round bumps on the genital region, such as the vulva, anus, vagina, or cervix. The bumps typically resemble the shape of cauliflower. You may only see one bump or an entire cluster of bumps. They are not usually painful but tend to itch if you irritate them.
2) Common Skin Warts
An HPV infection on your elbows, fingers, and hands can cause common skin warts to develop on them. Common skin warts may appear rough-looking but are not usually itchy or painful. However, the problem is the warts are too susceptible to injury because of their location on your body. An injury can cause common warts to bleed and cause discomfort.
3) Flat Warts
Flat warts often appear in HPV-infected young adults, children, and teenagers. If you see skin growths that appear dark, flat and raised, they are likely flat warts. They usually appear on parts of your body where you may scratch regularly, such as your legs, face, and neck. Some people mistake flat warts for acne or pimples because they are much smaller than other warts and appear a lot on the face.
4) Plantar Warts
Plantar warts come from similar HPV strains as common warts. The difference is that plantar warts develop in bodily areas under continuous pressure or strain, such as the heels of your feet. You will easily recognize plantar warts because they appear grainy and coarse. They will sometimes even cause you pain if they suffer too much strain. Otherwise, you probably won’t even notice the plantar warts unless you bother looking at the balls of your feet.
5) Upper Respiratory Tract Lesions
HPV infections may cause tiny lesions on any area of your respiratory tract, especially your lungs, nose, and mouth. However, the lesions commonly develop on the vocal cords and larynx of the upper respiratory tract. Once the HPV infection spreads to this area, it will likely affect the clarity of your voice and make it more difficult for you to breathe. Contact your doctor for treatment immediately if you experience these symptoms.
6) Mouth or Tongue Sores
An HPV infection could lead to canker sores on your mouth or tongue. They should go away after two weeks. But if they don’t go away, seek an evaluation from a dentist or doctor for further advice.
7) Sexual Performance Issues
Some HPV infections may lead to the development of cervical cancer. Women should watch for signs of cervical cancer, such as bleeding, pain, and discomfort during sexual intercourse.
8) Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain is another early warning sign of cervical cancer in HPV-infected women. Seek medical attention if your pelvic pain does not disappear within a week or two.
9) Rectal Bleeding
HPV-infected men and women can develop rectal cancer, which causes anal bleeding. Seek emergency medical care if you experience anal bleeding as an HPV-infected person.
10) Anal Pain and Itching
Current or previously HPV-infected people may develop anal pain and itching, especially when releasing gas from the rectum. These symptoms could be an early warning sign of cancerous tumor growth in the anus. Seek medical attention right away.
If you have any concerns relating to HPV or possible symptoms talk with your healthcare provider. In many cases they can provide HPV treatments that will be beneficial. HPV has no cure but treatments can still be effective in regaining your health and well-being.