HPV is an infection causing mucous membrane growths, also known as warts, to develop on the skin. Certain types of the HPV infection can cause cervical cancers. There are more than 100 varieties of HPV and these can all cause warts to develop on different parts of the body including the feet, genitals, face, or neck. Some types of genital HPV can cause cancer of the lower part of the uterus.
Often, the body's immune system defeats an HPV infection before it can create warts or changes to the cervix. When changes do appear, they vary depending on which variety of HPV is involved. Symptoms can include:
The HPV infection usually occurs as the result of a cut or abrasion on the skin where the virus can enter. The virus itself is transferred primarily by skin-to-skin contact. HPV infections in the genitals are contracted through sexual intercourse, anal sex, and other skin-to-skin contact in the genital region. Some HPV infections that result in oral or upper respiratory lesions are contracted through oral sex. Diagnosis can sometimes be made by looking at the warts themselves. If genital warts aren't visible, tests such as Pap test or DNA test will be able to determine the degree of HPV. Most HPV infections go away by themselves and don't cause cancer. But abnormal cells can develop when high-risk types of HPV don't go away.