[Question #6615] Hpv transmission

14 months ago
I am worried that I may have left a used razor at the home of a friend or family member. The reason I am more worried, is that I think I spread some existing genital warts to other areas of my genetalia by shaving. How plausible would it be that someone else get genital warts from a razor that had previously been used in areas that contained genital warts?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
14 months ago

Welcome to our Forum and thanks for your question.  I'll do my best to help.  Here is the bottom line related to sharing of razors and risk for HPV.  We know with great confidence that persons with genital warts who shave over the infection site do have an increased risk of spreading their infection to other places on their own body.  On the other hand, while the internet if absolutely full of statements that this is a potential mechanism for transmission of HPV, and while it makes theoretical sense, the fact is that the few scientific studies evaluation non-sexual transmission of HPV do not find a significant risk.  Thus, while it is certainly theoretically possible, there are no data to PROVE this is the case.  My own guess is that it probably occurs but is rare.  Remember the soap and other cleansing agents are powerful for prevention of HPV. 


While this reply does not provide an absolute answer, the likelihood is that IF you left a razor at someone's home and IF they used it, the risk for HPV transmission would be low.  I hope this information if helpful.  Do not be mislead by the internet that this is a common mechanism of HPV transmission.  EWH 

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14 months ago
Thanks for the reply.  I do have some follow up questions.  In someome with genital warts, why would they be able to transmit warts to other parts of the genitalia if this was not an efficient mode of transmission? Wouldn't this then mean that others could also be infected this way also?   If you still think the risk is low, would the risk be even lower if the razors were used by someone 2-3 years after I left the razor there?
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
14 months ago

I'm not sure I follow your questions.  Typically persons with genital warts do NOT move/transmit their infections to other parts of their body by scratching or other manipulations.  The exception to this is the razor situation in which the razor blade cuts into an existing wart and then moves the virus from it it to other skin parts through tiny cuts. 

There are no scientific data on how  where a razor which sat unused for 2-3 years after someone had contaminated it with HPV and then shared it would still transmit the infection or not.  L:ogically with the passage of time the likelihood of transmitting infection is low but as mentioned above, the transmission rate is already low to start with.

I think you are getting a bit too far along the "what if" line of questions to be practical.  EWH

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14 months ago
When you say "The exception to this is the razor situation in which the razor blade cuts into an existing wart and then moves the virus from it it to other skin parts through tiny cuts." 
I guess my question is,  wouldn't that same logic apply to someone who uses the razor after me? 

I am wondering if i need to call people to warn them about this or just let it be. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
14 months ago

While I appreciate your concern for others, I think you are overly focused on this.  Part of the difference is the time- when you use a razor the effect is immediate, OTOH when someone else uses if, they are likely to at least wet it before using it so that even if you did not, they would have rinsed the blade.  In addition, the passage of time is likely to diminish transmissibility as well.  As I said in my original reply, while sharing razors is listed as a THEORETICAL risk for transmission, there are NO studies which validate a significant risk.

As to what to do, my advice would be to contact whomever/wherever you left the razor and tell them, "I think I may have left my razor when I was there.  Would you mind throwing it away for me." and leave it at that.

I hope this final reply is helpful.  As I suspect you know, we provide up to a total of three response to each question.  This is the 3rd reply.  Thus the thread will be closed shortly without further response.  Take care.  EWH



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