What does HPV cause?

Where do we find HPV?, On what areas of the human body does HPV live and multiply?, What are papillomas and what are condylomas?

What does HPV cause?

Different types of HPV are classified based on the differences in their genome (their DNA). These genetic differences dictate their behavior (what area of the body each HPV type prefers to infect and what types of lesions it causes). The term lesion means abnormal changes in the structures of tissues due to infection by the HPV.

Most types of HPV infect the skin and cause benign lesions, called warts, on hands, feet, and in other locations. These are called cutaneous HPV types (genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, etc.)

Another group consists of the genital HPV types (genotypes 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, etc.) which infect the skin lining the lower genital tract, anus, and mouth. Genital HPVs may cause benign lesions, such as warts, as well as precancerous lesions and cancers in the areas they infect.

Where do we find HPV?

HPV cannot live in the environment on its own. It can survive on infected materials for just a few hours. HPV lives and multiplies exclusively on humans.

HPV prefers to live and multiply in specific body areas. For example, it cannot be found in your blood or in your muscles or bones.

On what areas of the human body does HPV live and multiply?

As you know, your body is covered and protected externally by the skin. Mucous membranes have a role similar to the skin and cover wet interior cavities (e.g. mouth, vagina, anus, etc.)

The skin's surface and the mucous membranes are covered by the epithelium (layers of cells with a protective role called epithelial cells). Skin is our coat of armor; it protects us from the environment. Mucous membranes have a similar role protecting our internal cavities.

HPV lives and multiplies inside the epithelial cells of the skin and mucous membranes in specific areas of your body.

What are papillomas and what are condylomas?

Sometimes, infection of the epithelium by certain types of HPV causes hyperplasia (an increase in the number of epithelial cells), creating characteristic growths that protrude from the skin or mucous membranes. Most of these lesions have cauliflower-like projections and are called papillomas (that is where HPV got its name - Human Papilloma Virus -, because it was first identified in papillomas)

Genital warts are papillomas caused by HPV in the genital area. They are also called condylomas (Latin: condyloma acuminatum, plural: condylomata acuminata).