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Warts matter

A number of patients came to seek treatment for the spots on their faces. The growths turned out to be facial warts.


What are warts?


Warts are viral infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection s quite common and occurs in different forms. In some cases, it could lead to tumours, even malignant.


The most common tumours associated with HPV are flat warts and genital warts. Cervical cancer, penile cancer, anal cancer and all forms of cancer on the head and the neck are associated with HPV.


How is HPV transmitted?

Skin infection by HPV is usually transmitted through direct contact with the warts of those infected or in a HPV contaminated environment. Hence, good personal hygiene can lower infection risks. Avoid touching your face or other parts of the body before washing your hands. HPV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse too, so unprotected sex is certainly unwise.


What can be done when infected?

There is as yet no medication for treating HPV infection. Affected cells or tissues must be surgically removed to clear HPV. Laser therapy is a safe and effective means for precisely removing skin warts. It works much better than conventional cryotherapy, electroacupuncture or surgical removal.


How to prevent HPV infection?

HPV vaccines are maturing in recent years. The US, some European countries and Australia have been carrying out vaccination programmes for a number of years. Their data show that vaccination can reduce the incidences of HPV infection leading to tumours and cancers, with negligible adverse side effects. It is both effective and safe. Therefore, it is advisable that any male or female aged nine or above should consider getting vaccinated.

The above information is provided by Dr. Leung Tsz Tung.