Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of pathological organisms represented by more than 27 species and several genera. There are a huge number of strains, of which there are already more than 600 pieces, and this is far from the limit. Of this number, about 40 are capable of affecting the human body, including HPV 16 and HPV 18.
As a result of the activity of this pathogen, people on the skin, mucous membranes and internal organs develop formations called papillomas or condylomas. By themselves, they do not pose a serious danger, however, a feature of the virus is the possibility of the degeneration of such benign formations into malignant. Of all the existing strains, it is HPV 16 and 18 that differ in high oncogenic risk.
Features of the disease
Now almost everyone knows about papillomavirus infection. According to statistics, more than ninety percent of the world's population is infected, and this figure will only increase in the future. This is largely due to the fact that it is completely impossible to cure the disease. It’s only possible to stop the symptoms through a treatment course, and once the pathogen once enters the body, it remains to live in it forever.
Another factor affecting the spread of the disease is an asymptomatic course. Not every infected person develops condylomas on the skin. Once inside the cell, the pathogen does not immediately affect epithelial DNA. Activation requires provoking factors.
If this still happens, then the papilloma virus 18 and 16 of the strain reprograms the genetic structures. This is what causes the development of atypical cells as a result of problems with their division. So papillomas are formed. Initially, they are benign, but the risk of degeneration into malignant is very high, so it is important to be treated at the first manifestations.
How can a pathogen be transmitted?
The most common pathogen is through sexual transmission. At the same time, contact contraceptives are unable to protect a person from infection. First of all, this is due to the fact that latex pores are not adapted to impede the movement of virus cells. They are much smaller than sperm, and therefore can pass through a condom. However, it still retains a certain proportion of the pathogen.
Secondly, condoms protect only from contact with the mucous membranes of the genitals. In this case, condylomas, when touched that can be infected, appear outside this zone. Moreover, the pathogen can be transmitted in other ways. Among them:
- Domestic. The strain can penetrate the human body through damaged areas of the skin. For example, this happens when using one towel, dishes, manicure tools and some other things. High-risk areas are public institutions such as baths and pools;
- Through saliva, for example, with kisses;
- Vertical. A viral strain is transmitted from mother to newborn if she is ill at the time of delivery. Most often, this happens with independent home birth, but other situations are possible. For example, when a cesarean section is performed, the virus sometimes enters the larynx membrane of the baby.
The so-called self-infection is known. In certain situations, the pathogen can move from one part of the human body to another. As a result of friction or any damage, the warts come in contact with the mucous membranes or skin. If at the same time their integrity is violated, then the probability of transferring the pathogen to a new area is especially high.
Among ninety percent of people infected with the human papillomavirus, not everyone has unpleasant symptoms. This is due to the fact that most often the immune system is able to suppress the activity of the pathogen, keeping it in an inactive state. If the protective abilities of the body have decreased, with HPV type 16 and 18, warts and condylomas appear.
Among the most common factors that provoke a deterioration in immunity:
- Constant stress;
- Genital infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, chronic thrush and ureaplasmosis;
- A variety of diseases of the cervix, such as ectropion and erosion;
- The early onset of sexual activity, including not only sex but also petting;
- Metabolic disease;
- Frequent change of sexual partners (if there are more than one for three years);
- Postponed abortion;
- Lack of a variety of nutrients, especially vitamins;
- Bad habits such as alcohol and smoking;
- Prolonged use of birth control pills.
Strains characterized by high oncogenicity most often affect organs associated with childbirth, and in women, type 16 papillomavirus is more common. Men are also susceptible to the disease, however, it is especially important for the fair sex to take tests. The activity of the virus can lead to serious consequences in the field of gynecology, so you need to get tested as soon as possible.
Stages of development
After the strain has entered the human body, the incubation period begins. At this time, it is impossible to notice any symptoms of the disease, however, it can already be diagnosed by PCR. A variety of factors affect the duration of the latent period, the key of which is the state of the immune system.
The next stage is called the stage of clinical manifestations. Under the influence of a pathogen, cells begin to actively divide, which is why growths form on the skin and mucous membranes. There are three main options:
- Papillomas. In color, they practically do not differ from the skin, have a wide base. Education does not lead to any discomfort. Most often they appear on the genitals, neck, eyelids, armpits and under the chest;
- Genital warts. They differ in the presence of a thin leg, which is immediately visible in the photo, which attaches them to the mucous membranes and skin. Common localization points are the anus and genitals. They can develop very quickly, causing a variety of unpleasant sensations;
- Warts. This is a dense formation, the surface of which is hard and rough. Color may vary. Sometimes it is almost no different from the skin, and in other cases, black and red shades are observed. Warts usually appear on the feet, legs and arms.
The third stage in the development of HPV is dysplasia. The virus begins to change the vital activity of the cell, its size and structure. Using a microscope, DNA of 16 and 18 strains can be found in tissues. This suggests that the development of oncopathology has begun. At the fourth stage, the papillomavirus will be fixed in the genetic material, which will cause the appearance of malignant tumors.
Children are also affected by the pathogen. Among the existing forms of the disease, the most dangerous for them is laryngeal papillomatosis. In this case, formations appear on the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. You can notice this by a hoarse voice and pain when swallowing. In children under five years of age 18 and 16, strains, in the case of strong growth of growths, can lead to asphyxiation.
What to do with HPV? Diagnostics
The process of diagnosing a disease begins with an objective examination. The doctor examines the skin and mucous membranes for the appearance of warts and other variants of growths. Typically, women also have to undergo colposcopy of the genital tract with an increase. Sometimes condylomas are located on the internal organs, or do not appear at all due to a latent course. Therefore, other diagnostic methods are used, such as:
- PCR This method reveals the pathogen even with its small accumulation. For the study, the doctor will take a smear, sometimes urine or blood is also taken. Deciphering the information obtained makes it possible to find out the type of pathogen;
- Histology. During colposcopy, tissue sampling is performed. They are examined for cancer structures;
- Genotyping. Used to predict the course of the disease;
- Digene test. One of the most modern diagnostic methods, but to obtain an accurate clinical picture, a combination with other methods is required. The test detects a specific strain of the virus, determines the quantitative aspect and the chance of oncological degeneration.
In the process of diagnosing human papillomavirus, the cytological method is often used, but with respect to strains 16 and 18 it is considered uninformative. Cytology is deciphered mainly for the study of types with low oncogenicity. After the examination, if the HPV test is positive, it is necessary to proceed to treatment.
How to treat HPV?
It is impossible to completely cure the virus in the body. The treatment regimen is aimed at eliminating clinical manifestations. This helps prevent cancerous tissue degeneration and minimize the chance of further spread of the strain. Therapy includes the use of drugs and the removal of growths.
There are no specific antiviral drugs, so doctors usually prescribe drugs like Viferon, Acyclovir, Cycloferon, Isoprinosine, and Panavir. If it is established that the pathogen will lead to the formation of oncological formations, cytotoxic drugs like Vinblastine are added to drug therapy.
There are many ways to remove warts and genital warts. Among the most traditional are the surgical method and electrocoagulation. The first involves the removal of papillomas with a scalpel. Such an effect leads to bleeding, often after surgery there are scars and scars.
Electrocoagulation is the burning of a formation using tungsten electrodes. The procedure is painful, so local anesthesia is used for it. Often, scars remain upon completion. Among other methods of removal are known:
- Laser It acts directly on the formation, due to which it leaves virtually no traces;
- Cryotherapy. Liquid nitrogen is used for removal. The procedure is painless, but scars may appear when a large number of warts are removed.
- Radio wave. The elimination of condyloma occurs through the use of a radio knife. This is a bloodless procedure that does not affect the blood vessels.
Alternative methods can only be used as an additional effect. By themselves, they are unable to eliminate papillomas or the virus.
Feedback on the radio wave method:
“Before the procedure they put an anesthetic injection, which is very unpleasant. But after its action there remains only a feeling of tolerant heat. Everything healed well, there was no scar left. ”