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HPV/Wart Recurrence (with Anxiety)
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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/Wart Recurrence (with Anxiety)

Hi, I'm trying to put my situation into perspective.  I'm male, straight, age 33, always used condoms consistently.  

In Nov. 2008 I found a single wart at the base of my penis.  Visual diagnosis from a doctor.  I was referred to a dermatologist, and offered Aldara in the meantime.  The wait for a derm appointment was long; the wart seemed to clear up with the Aldara in about 2-3 months.  Once I stopped the Aldara, a small bump appeared slowly over the next 4-5 months.  

In Oct. 2009, I had a single cryotherapy application from the dermatologist, who said it looked like a tiny wart.  In Dec. 2010, I returned to the dermatologist because the same area again looked abnormal to me.  He said it looked ok, perhaps a bit hard to tell because of a hair follicle--he was hesitant to do a cryo application unless I insisted so we agreed to watch and wait.  

In Sept./Oct 2012, I noticed the area was slightly raised and returned to the dermatologist.  Because of my history, and the fact it was raised, he indicated he would treat this as a wart.  We agreed to do a biopsy, which indicated it was benign but consistent with a wart.  I returned after biopsy result and had the area treated with cryo, in case the surgical excision did not get it all.  

Now, it has been two months since that last treatment, and over 4 years since the original wart was found. This all pertains to the same single area.  I feel like I was not aggressive enough in getting it treated early on, though it was tiny and ambiguous even by the dermatologist's opinion.  Does my delay in treatment affect the long term results? Does the fact that there was still some remnant on the skin after 4 years indicate a continuing active infection or could it just be a surface remnant of the virus that cleared already?

I am recently divorced and have avoided dating so far but I would like to start. My skin is clear as of now. How long should I be considered contagious, given the time frame involved?  


239123_tn?1267651214
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.  The bottom line is that you probably do not have a continuing wart and the HPV infection that caused it is long gone.  HPV is rarely contagious beyond a year or two.

It is rare for genital warts to persist this long, even without treatment.  And it is quite common for scar tissue -- often in the form of a bump -- to persist indefinitely.  That's probably what is going on.  If you remain uncertain about it, you could check again with your dermatologist.  But based on what you have said, if I were you I would not fear having sex with new partners.

I hope this has helped.  Best wishes--  HHH, MD
4 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for your response...I have been reading the forum extensively.  I had the same thought: the original wart, once gone, never re-appeared the same.  Though in the same spot, it was more of a tiny, raised red spot.  However, the biopsy did confirm tissue was consistent with the changes caused by a wart and dermatologist favored treating it--though he did acknowledge the benefit was likely a cosmetic one to me.  He also commented that my case was extremely mild, I was a good candidate for a "cure" (non-recurrence), and that it was something I was unlikely to pass on to anyone else.  

This has been a major source of anxiety on and off for years...I am certainly hyper vigilant and irrational.  Ive tried treatment for the anxiety.

My inclination would be to not mention this to new partners over 4 years after the event.  But i have doubts.  I just want to be able to start a relationship with a clean conscience and it sounds like you are indicating that is possible?
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Avatar_m_tn
And to clarify, the biopsy was performed in 2012 on the remaining red bump, not years ago on the original wart...hence my confusion and fears of longer term virus activity and recurrence.  Though I reckon the biopsy is indicating tissue changes and not measuring HPV infection, if I understand correctly.
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239123_tn?1267651214
So you had a persistent or recurrent wart in 2012. That doesn't usually happen, but it's not rare -- and it doesn't indicate anything special about the immune system or the potential for continued recurrent warts or other HPV problems.

For the next few months, it would be a kindness to tell any potential sex partners that you had a recent, recurrent genital wart.  Some women will care, others will not.  If a potential partner has been immunized with Gardasil, the anti-HPV vaccine, she probably is immune to your HPV infection.  In any case, genital wart should be viewed as a minor inconvenience, not an important health threat.  It should never be permitted to interfere with love, romance, and rewarding sex.  It just isn't that important.
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University of Washington
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