A person infected with the HPV usually does not know that they are infected by the virus because they did not develop any symptoms or health problems. Most of the time, the immune system is able to beat the virus before it develops any symptoms, and HPV goes away unnoticed.
However, one of the more obvious symptoms for some to find out if they have HPV is when they get genital warts. When warts do appear they may vary in appearance based on what type of HPV they have:
- Genital Warts may look like small cauliflower bumps, flat lesions, or small stem-like protrusions that can cause some itchiness.
Women may develop this in their pubic area, vulva, vagina, and cervix or near the anus. Men may develop this on their penis, scrotum, or near the anus.
- Flat Warts are flat-topped lesions darker than your skin color. These warts develop on your neck, face, shoulders, or back. This may infect children and adults.
- Plantar Warts are tough coarse lesions that typically appear on the heels or balls of the feet. This kind can cause some pain and discomfort because of the pressure put on it when we stand, walk, etc.
- Common Warts are coarse raised bumps that appear on the fingers, hands, or elbows which can also be painful, unsightly, and prone to bleeding.
HPV virus resides in mucous membranes like the genital area or it may also be on the skin. Genital wart is a certain indication of HPV infection. They can appear on the vagina, vulva, cervix, penis, scrotum, and anus. And they can be small or big, sometimes appearing as a single wart or multiple ones. Also, warts can appear in the throat known as Recurrent Respiratory Papillomatosis.
There is no clear indication when genital warts may show up. It may appear weeks after sexual contact or it may appear after a few months. So, a person will not straightaway know if infected by HPV.
There are also some types of HPV that are related to cancer, more particularly cervical cancer, cancer of the penis, anus, and throat. This kind of HPV infection can cause precancerous changes to the cells. A more complex screening and testing would be required for this such as Pap tests for women and for men, if there are any irregularities with your genital parts, visit your doctor right away. Getting HPV vaccine shots would be an effective way to avoid infection and have regular health checkups.