STDs Expert Forum
HPV - Hand transmission
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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HPV - Hand transmission

Doctors,
This is my second question as of recently, so it will be my last for a while. I appreciate you previous feedback. but would like a little more clarification.

As I stated in my previous post, I continue to have active warts. Is it possible if my hand were to touch a wart, that the disease could sit on my fingers and spread if I were to touch my mouth? I only ask because yesterday after showering, I was examining the wart. I then received a phone call, and I neglected to wash my hands. Within ten minutes, I noticed I was scratching at the corner of my lip.  I also have a young baby at home and try to remember to wash or use any hand sanatizer before contact. I sometimes wipe food off her mouth just using my hand.
Im sure this seems ridiculous, but with the warts active, I want to know the limitations of contact with myself and others.
300980_tn?1194933000
I think you are worrying more than you need to.  We are still learning much about HPV infections and indeed they are so widespread that we can safely say that nearly everyone will have HPV infections over the course of their lives and that just about everyone who has ever had sex will acquire one or more of the genital infections.  Despite the fact that these infections are virtually omniscient, they rarely cause disease and when disease occurs, it tends to occur in person who do not seek regular medical care, either as part of routine health care (i.e. like PAP smears for women) or when problems appear.  

Transmission of genital HPV by touching may happen but if it does it is very, very rare (remember, there are people who have been struck by lightning).  There are several good scientific reason for this.  These include that with each transfer from one surface to another (i.e. from a wart to your hand or from your hand to another person's skin) substantially less virus is transferred- this "dilution effect" reduces infectivity markedly since the likelihood of infection is proportional to the amount of virus one is in contact with.  Secondly, different types of HPV tend to "like" different parts of the body.  Thus genital warts do not tend to cause infection on non-genital skin.  

I would not worry about HPV transmission related to casual contact of the sort you describe.  Having said that, in that this is your 2nd post over a short period of time, it may be that your warts have, for some reason, caught your attention in a way that is hard to shake.  That being the case, if these sorts of concerns are going to continue to plague you, why not go to a dermatologist and get rid of them once and for all.  While I applaud your concerns for those around you, a continuing focus on this is not good for you.

I hope my comments and perspectives are helpful.  EWH
4 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
I know this falls under casual contact, which I am sure is rare. I just want to make sure I am protecting everyone important to me. Especially with the warts being active.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you again. I do agree that this has been hard for me to shake. Especially when it comes into making sure my loved ones are safe. My wife is aware of my concerns and was vaccinated years ago. With a little one in the house, I wanted to make sure I was knowledgeable of possible casual transmission. However, it is evident that certain strains of hpv are considered sexual because of the methods of transmission. As you mentioned, transmission this way is extremely rare, and I should not worry. I will now focus on myself and see a doctor to have my occurence dealt with. I REALLY appreciate all you and Dr. H do. Happy Holidays to you!
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300980_tn?1194933000
Glad to help. take care. EWH
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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Edward W Hook, MDBlank
University of Alabama at Birmingham
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