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Getting recurring wart for HPV on same spot. Sexually active. Chances of spreading?

Answered by
Dr. Timothy Raichle


Practicing since :1999

Answered : 1681 Questions

Posted on Thu, 31 Jan 2013 in Infections
Question: I have a frustrating history with warts/HPV. In high school I had some plantar warts on my feet and would visit a dermatologist to remove them.

A few years later, I discovered a common wart on my left middle finger. I went to the same doctor (for the planters) and he removed it. unfortunately, and to my disappointment, the wart resurfaced in the same spot a few years later. Last year I visited a new doctor who removed it again. maybe, 2 months later it reappeared and I returned to the 2nd dermatologist who removed it with a more aggressive method.

however, this was not totally effective and sure enough a month later, the wart, albeit, smaller in size, returned.

perhaps, I will have to accept the wart on my left hand as virtually incurable; however, just 2 days ago, I noticed a new wart on my right index finger.

I have been dating a girl for about 2 months and we are sexually active. Because of the wart on the left hand I had been very careful not to have any sexual contact with her, except using my right hand. I should be clear that, since I first observed the wart on the right hand I have not had any sexual contact with her with either hand. nevertheless, lastnight she reported a vague vaginal discomfort. while, that could be any number of things; I am terrified she may have been inadvertently infected.

online, i read a blog from a doctor at OSU who said; there's an 'extremely' small likelihood that someone can infect their partner's genital area from a wart on their hand area. there seems to be many web pages online with anecdotes suggesting otherwise; however, for the time being I am taking some solace in that posting, suggesting that the likelihood is quite small due to the totally different strain of the virus common to each part of the body.

however, I'm still not entirely sure what to make of all this. do you think we might be that rare case where hpv has spread from the hand to the vagina? (despite being unusual behavior for a particular strain).

and regardless; what are the risks and treatment strategies that must now be employed? Can I infect myself, either genitally or on other parts of my body? Can I infect my girlfriend? Is the left hand treatable or a lost cause? the right?

I ask these questions; because if there is indeed substantial risk; it's hard for me to accept that the use of my hands, both sexually, and regularly is so limited. in other words, this is my right hand! should i refrain from even shaking hands, if the right index has small wart?

I appreciate your thoughts and insight doctor.
Answered by Dr. Timothy Raichle 1 hour later
Hello, I would be happy to help you with your question.

First of all, I want to reassure you that the warts that we commonly associate with the hands and feet are different strains that those that we commonly associate with cervical problems or genital warts.

There are more than 100 strains of HPV. There are about 40 strains that can be associated with sexual contact. There are a small number of strains that are associated with pre-cancerous changes in the vagina or on the cervix and they are NOT the strains that cause warts on the hands or feet. If they were, we would have a much bigger problem with vaginal and cervical cancer.

You do not need to avoid contact with your right hand and other people. They just don't transmit with simple handshakes or brief contact. Second, you should continue to pursue getting the removed. There are multiple ways to treat them, but simple freezing, for example, might need to be repeated weekly or monthly until all of the wart is gone and does not return.

Lastly, the vaginal pain is almost certainly NOT related to a new HPV infection. If she still has symptoms, she should get checked out by her OB/GYN.

I hope that this helps. Please ask if you have followup questions.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

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