Is There a Cure for HPV?
HPV Treatments for Tissue Changes
If the HPV infection has caused abnormal cell changes that could lead to cervical cancer, there are four main treatment options:
- Watch and wait. Sometimes the cell changes -- called cervical dysplasia, precancerous cell changes, or cervical intraepithelial neoplasia -- will heal on their own.
- Cryotherapy. This involves freezing the abnormal cells with liquid nitrogen.
Conization. This procedure, also known as a cone biopsy, removes the abnormal areas.
- Laser therapy uses light to burn away abnormal cells.
- Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP). The abnormal cells are removed with an electrical current.
The goal is to remove all the abnormal cells and thus remove most or all of the cells with HPV.
HPV Treatments for Genital Warts
The genital warts associated with HPV infection can be raised or flat. They can be small or large. Colors vary, including pink or flesh-colored. Genital warts can appear on the cervix, scrotum, groin, thigh, anus, or penis.
Treating the warts aggressively immediately after they appear is discouraged. They could still be emerging. Repeat treatment would be needed later.
HPV types 6 and 11, those associated with genital warts, tend to grow for about six months, then stabilize. Sometimes, visible genital warts go away without treatment.
When treatment is indicated, patients can get a prescription cream from their doctor to apply at home. There are two options:
- Podofilox, or Condylox
- Imiquimod, or Aldara
A doctor can show you how to apply these treatments. Podofilox is used for about four weeks. It works by destroying the wart tissue. Research shows that about 45% to 90% of warts are cleared, but in 30% to 60% of cases, the warts can come back.
Imiquimod boosts the immune system so it fights off the virus. Clearance rates range from 70% to 85%, but in 5% to 20% of cases the warts come back.
In addition, a doctor can provide other types of wart-removal treatments. Among the options:
- Cryotherapy, the freezing off of the wart with liquid nitrogen
- Trichloracetic acid, a chemical applied to the surface of the wart
- Surgical removal, cutting the cells out with a scalpel
- Electrocautery, burning off warts using an electric current
- Laser vaporization or excision of the warts