Self-management

Prevention

Common warts

It's difficult to prevent HPV infections that cause common warts. If you have a common wart, you can prevent the spread of the infection and formation of new warts by not picking at a wart and not biting your nails.

Plantar warts

To reduce the risk of contracting HPV infections that cause plantar warts, wear shoes or sandals in public pools and locker rooms.

Genital warts

You can reduce your risk of developing genital warts and other HPV-related genital lesions by:

  • Being in a mutually monogamous sexual relationship
  • Reducing your number of sex partners
  • Using a latex condom, which can reduce your risk of HPV transmission

HPV vaccines

Three vaccines, which vary in the number of HPV types they protect against, have been developed. Gardasil, Gardasil 9 and Cervarix have been shown to protect against cervical cancer. Gardasil and Gardasil 9 also protect against genital warts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine HPV vaccination for girls and boys ages 11 and 12. The vaccines are to be administered in three doses over six months. If children are not fully vaccinated at ages 11 and 12, the CDC recommends that girls and women through age 26 and boys and men through age 21 receive the vaccine.

The CDC also recommends the vaccine through age 26 for men who have sex with men and for both men and women who are immune compromised if they didn't get the vaccine when younger. However, these vaccines are most effective if given before being exposed to HPV, so it's best to get them before becoming sexually active.

Researchers are working on newer vaccines, some designed to treat HPV lesions, but they're not yet available.