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.
To reduce the risk of contracting HPV infections that cause plantar warts, wear shoes or sandals in public pools and locker rooms.
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
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, although it can be given as early as age 9. It's ideal for girls and boys to receive the vaccine before they have sexual contact and are exposed to HPV. Research has shown that receiving the vaccine at a young age isn't linked to an earlier start of sexual activity.
Once someone is infected with HPV, the vaccine might not be as effective or might not work at all. Also, response to the vaccine is better at younger ages than it is at older ages.
In October 2016, the CDC updated the HPV vaccine schedule to recommend that all 11- and 12-year-olds receive two doses of HPV vaccine at least six months apart, rather than the previously recommended three-dose schedule. Younger adolescents ages 9 and 10 and teens ages 13 and 14 are also able to receive vaccination on the updated two-dose schedule.
Teens and young adults who begin the vaccine series later, at ages 15 through 26, should continue to receive three doses of the vaccine.
Researchers are working on newer vaccines, some designed to treat HPV lesions, but they're not yet available.