[Question #1642] Genital warts transmission questions

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89 months ago

Dear Doctor

Thank you for your time.  I am 36 years old man with a boy.      2 months ago I noticed some  growths  on the tip of my penis ,   at first I  thought it is normal tissue and   did not  care it.   one week ago I went to see my dermatologist and  was  told that is genital wart  caused by  hpv virus (6 and 11), then my dermatologist  removed them.

He told me that if warts have cleared up and not recurred  after 12 months,  it could be cured.

But what I worried is my baby boy. I am worried to transmit  it to him  by touching him or some inanimate object I just used.

Here are my questions

1)      do you suggest your patients  who had genital warts wash their clothes(especially underwear) separately ? Before that I usually wash our clothes together by washing machine

2)      do you suggest not to share my towel with my son ?

3)      do you suggest that wash my hand before touch him ?

4)      how long do you think that hpv virus can  survive on an inanimate object without a host ?

could you please give me any scientific explanation?

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H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
89 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

I agree with your dermatologist, although his estimate of 12 months until "cure" is just that, an estimate. I usually say warts and the HPV infection causing them probably is gone if there is no recurrence within 6 months. Nobody knows exactly and the virus might already be gone entirely. For sure removal of the warts reduces the amount of virus in the infected area.

HPV is almost never transmitted in households, to children or anyone else. I can't say it never happens, because rarely genital or anal warts appear in young children (babies) without evidence of sexual abuse, presumably acquired during diaper changing, bathing, etc. However, it is very rare, and genital type warts appear even more rarely in older children (over 1-2 years). You need not take any speial precatutions. HPV is less easily transmitted than you might think. Look at it this way:  people with genital warts never transmit it to theiir own sex partners, except in the genital area by sex. Neither people with genital warts nor their partners develop warts on their hands or elsewhere on their bodies, despite frequently touching their genital areas and other parts of the body, shared bathrooms and towels, etc. Neither do the non-sex-partner household members of infected persons. In other words, there is very little if any risk to your kids.

To your specific questions:

1) There is absolutely no need to launder clothing separately.

2) HPV is not believed to be transmitted by towels. However, many families try to avoid sharing towels anyway. The main reason is to reduce the chance of transmitting colds, flu, viral gastroenteritis, etc -- especially from kids to their parents -- and not because of HPV or other STDs. So having separate towels makes sense. However, nobody should freak out if one of the kids forgets and uses your towel from time to time.

3) Everybody should wash their hands after using the bathroom or touching their own genitals or anal area. So should you. But special wasthing beyond that is not necessary.

4) It isn't known whether or how long HPV can surivive on inaniate objects or in the environment. But nobody ever gets infected in this way, so it doesn't matter.

Bottom line:  Genital HPV is considered an STD for good reason:  without sex, transmission almost never occurs. You really need not be worried about it.

I hope this has been helpful, but let me know if anything isn't clear.


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89 months ago

Thank  you  for  your  help  and  your  answers  are  greatly  helpful

Before  I know  that  growth  was  genital  wart , I frequently  touching  the growth  and  then  squeeze  the acnes  on my  face or  other  parts  on  my  body , recently  I  read some research  articles  that  hpv  wart   could be auto-inoculable .  so I am confused  and worried  about it . what I understand  is  that  if exist any wound and  hpv  virus ,then  auto-inoculation  could happen

Here are the questions

1)  recently i  found  2 warts on my finger,  and  my  dermatologist  told me that  were  verruca  vulgaris , but  I  think  that may  be  caused by  hpv(6 and 11)  due  to frequently  touching  the  growth

      in your career , have you ever seen any case or any documented report that hpv virus(6 and 11) was  found on  people‚Äôs hand or face ?

2)   do you think I need to  take a  test to  make  it  clear  of  which  hpv  type  it is  ?  for  example  a  biopsy  test ? I  think  dermatologist  usually  gets  trapped  in  the mindset  that  wart  appear  near  the  genital areas must be  genital  wart and  other parts  must be common warts. I think the diagnostic method may result in some misdiagnosis

maybe you think I am over nervous but some explanations are competing , so I am confused and worried

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H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
89 months ago
1) Auto-inoculation of genital warts can occur, but usually is limited to the genital or anal area -- and even that is relatively uncommon. I can't way it never happens, and I suppose it is possible your finger warts were due to the same infection as your genital warts; or maybe vice versa, with inoculation of your finger warts to the genital area. However, these both occur rarely if at alll, and it is more likely you had two entirely separate HPV infections. In my 40 years in the STD business, I don't think I ever saw a patient who had auto-inoculcated genital warts to their hands, face, or elsewhere except the genital area. (In other words, I think your dermatologist's "mind set" is the right one.)

2) HPV type testing is rarely done for common warts and I see no need for it. No matter what types are present at either site, it will make no difference in treatment, the chance of future recurrence, or risk to your kids or other household members.