[Question #4586] HPV and used towels in household (I promise this is my last round of questions)

27 months ago
Dear experts, 

I am sorry for being here again, but there is still something floating in my mind.

4 years ago, i have been diagnosed with genital warts. They are now gone for almost 2 years.

What worries me is the fact that I lived at home with my family when i had these warts.

When I learned more about hpv, I always made sure to use separate towels and to not even dry my genital area because the towel may touch this area, but in the early days of my diagnosis I wasn't that cautious so I dried my genitals with the towel. Also our bathroom was very tiny and became quite hot when showering with a lot of condense on the mirror and probably also on the towel.

I am very worried and concerned that I might have infected my family-members when they used the same towel I had used when I had these warts.

I have read a lot on this forum and I am aware of the theoretical risk of this scenario. But I just can not live with the fact that "I might have infected them with hpv, but probably not..."

I am sorry if this sounds irrational, but thanks to my ocd-minded view on things, it's very hard to seperate the emotional from the rational.

So my questions are:

- Is there any risk of infecting my family-members via used towels after I used the same towel, even when this might had happen often during the period I was living at home (I don't know if it did)
- I am at a point of warning them for a possible HPV-infection that they might have contracted in the past due to these towels, do you think this is good idea?

Thanks in advance
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
27 months ago
I'm also sorry you're back.

These questions indicate that you did not read Dr. Hook's and my replies in your three previous threads, or didn't understand them -- or maybe just didn't believe them. All these new questions are answered in those discussions, either directly or by simple logic based on those replies. I agree with you that this is your OCD speaking. Even if you have genital HPV, which almost certainly you do not, there is no risk to your family by shared towels. Do not say anything to them about it.

If you remain concerned (and obsessed) by this, my advice is to re-read your previous three threads, concentrating carefully on every word; stop searching the internet about anything related to HPV; and work witih the health care providers you see for your OCD. (Or find such a provider if you don't currently have one. I suggest it from compassion, not criticism.)

Finally, please note the forum does not permit repeated questions on the same topic or exposure. This being your fourth, it will have to be your last one; future new questions about your HPV fears may receive no reply and the posting fee will not be refunded. This policy is based on compassion, not criticism, and is designed to reduce temptations to keep paying for questions with obvious answers. In addition, experience shows that continued answers tend to prolong users' anxieties rather than reducing them. Finally, such questions have little educational value for other users, one of the forum's main purposes. Thanks for your understanding. 

Best wishes--   HHH, MD