Can you get rid of HPV? Well, existing HPV infections currently have no cure. But the immune system of most people would naturally clear the infection off by itself. There are also available treatments for the symptoms.
Human papillomavirus, also called HPV for short, refers to more than 100 viruses that are related. All over the world, there is no STD as common as HPV. So it is quite rampant.
But if you don’t have an infection, you can get HPV vaccination to protect your body from HPV infections. If you get infected, you might come down with genital warts. HPV infections also cause some types of cancer.
People often wonder why antibiotics don’t work for treating HPV. This is because HPV infections are viral. But antibiotics are designed to treat bacterial infections. As of the moment, there is no clinically approved antiviral medication for treating HPV.
But then, as we have mentioned, you can treat HPV flare-ups and their symptoms. If you have genital warts, for instance, your physician is likely to prescribe certain medications for your treatment.
If you leave warts untreated, they might just go away by themselves. But sometimes, it refuses to go and stays the same. At other times, however, genital warts might grow both in number and size if you don’t treat them.
Read on, we will tell you all you need to know about HPV diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosis of HPV
Sometimes doctors only need to look at warts to diagnose what it is. But in some cases, genital warts might not be visible. If this happens in your case, you would need any of the tests below:
1. Vinegar solution test
To do this test, the physician would apply a vinegar solution to your genitals. The area would turn white and flat lesions that were otherwise hard to see would become visible.
2. Pap test
To do this test, your physician would collect cervical or vaginal cell samples. These samples would be sent to the lab for testing and analysis. If there are any anomalies that might cause cancer, pap tests would reveal them.
3. DNA test
This is a test that can recognize the DNA sequence of high-risk HPV varieties. These varieties are known to cause genital cancers. If you are a woman, and your age is 30 and above, you should do this test with the pap smear test.
Can You Get Rid of HPV?
HPV sometimes clears up naturally but underlying HPV infections have no cure. So there is only one way to rid your body of HPV. You must wait for your body’s immunity to naturally clear off the virus.
Your immune system is potent enough to get rid of HPV. The only question is how long it would take to clear it off. Experts say that 90% of HPV infections clear up and become undetectable within 2 years. But most cases among these clear within 6 months.
HPVs are of different types and some types are high-risk. If you have such high-risk types for the long-term, it increases cancer risks. However, cancers only occur in approximately 1% of HPV cases.
If your immune system is very strong, it will clear up HPV very quickly. So your goal if you have an HPV infection is to do things that can boost your immunity. Certain lifestyle factors can help you accomplish this.
Some of these lifestyle factors include doing regular exercise and making dietary changes. This would increase your body’s ability to get rid of the infection. You must, however, note that lifestyle changes cannot take care of HPV flare-ups, like warts. You need medical treatment for Warts.
Smoking negatively impacts your immune system. If you smoke tobacco, it would reduce the ability of your immune system to clear away the virus. This will, in turn, make your recovery time longer.
Smoking can also increase the risks of developing long-term health complications from HPV. This is because your immune system would be weaker. Some of these long-term complications include cancer.
Experts agree that if you quit smoking, it would improve the outlook of HPV infection. Your body’s immune system would be better positioned to clear HPV infections and prevent complications.
As far as treatment is concerned, you might take medications to help eliminate warts. These medications are often topical. This means that you would apply them directly over the skin lesion.
More so, it typically takes several applications to achieve success with warts treatment. Examples include the following:
1. Salicylic acid
Many over-the-counter treatments with the ingredient, salicylic acid can help remove warts layer by layer. Over time, it would remove it completely.
You should, however, use salicylic acid only for common warts. It might be too harsh for sensitive skin areas like the face. If you use it on the face, it might irritate your skin badly.
This is a prescription-grade cream. It might help boost your immunity to rid you of HPV. The application site might, however, become red and swollen after the application. If this is only mild, you have nothing to worry about.
3. Trichloroacetic acid
Some doctors recommend chemical treatments like trichloroacetic acid to burn off warts. This works best on the soles, genitals, and palms. But be wary of any local irritation when you use it.
This is another prescription-grade topical cream. It helps destroy wart tissue in the genital area. But it might cause itching and burning at the application site.
If these medications fail to deliver results, your physician might suggest helping you remove warts using any of the methods below:
- Cryotherapy: This method freezes off visible warts with liquid nitrogen. You should expect a moderate to mild burning sensation as your doctor directly applies nitrogen to your warts. Take note also that you might need more than 1 cryotherapy treatment to remove your warts fully, depending on how extensive they are.
- Surgical removal: This method involves the surgical excision of visible warts, especially around the genitals. The surgeon would stitch your skin back together after removing your warts. In about 2-4 weeks after the excision, the incisions should have fully healed. But note that you might have permanent scars if you choose this method. That’s why doctors often use it as their last resort when all other treatment options have failed.
- Electrocautery: This method involves burning off genital warts with low-voltage electrical probes. This is often done under the influence of anesthetics. This would help manage pain while the procedure is being carried out.
- Laser removal: Laser light can help heats up warts and destroy their red blood cells. This eventually kills the wart tissue itself.
You cannot get rid of HPV infection without any medical treatment. But can you get rid of HPV warts? Yes, you can. We have shown you how in this article. But make sure you allow a licensed physician to evaluate, diagnose, and treat you.