The human papillomavirus (HPV) is well known because it affects the genital area of many women, but, as you may have heard, it can also affect other areas of the body such as the skin and the respiratory tract and the mouth.
In the mouth, it is not usually something ubiquitous. When there are injuries of this type, the defenses are generally low, and if the consumption of alcohol and tobacco is also added, tumor lesions may appear.
In this FastlyHealarticle, we explain the symptoms, how it is spread, and the treatment of HPV in the mouth.
Table of Contents
What is HPV
HPV stands for Human Papilloma Virus, also known as HPV for its acronym in English (Human Papilloma Virus). Its association with cervical problems or skin warts is well known, but it can also affect the mouth and airway structures.
There are many different types. Some are more associated with genital lesions, while those that affect the skin or the oral region are usually different.
The mouth and airway are often more affected by types 6 and 11. These are often associated with significant lesions of the pharynx, larynx, trachea, and bronchi, such as papillomatosis or invasion of papillomas.
Symptoms of HPV in the mouth
It is scarce for HPV to be found exclusively in the mouth. When HPV is present in this area, it may or may not give symptoms. HPV can be found in people who do not have lesions. The presence of symptoms has more to do with the person’s state of health. A person in balance with healthy habits usually has high defenses; on the other hand, imbalances end up causing the reasons below, and any virus or bacteria triggers problems.
Among the symptoms that can appear in the mouth from an HPV infection are:
- Stains on the mucosa, gums, tongue, pharynx, and larynx.
- Lesions such as warts (papillomas).
If it affects the larynx, they may also appear:
- Dry cough.
- High-pitched sound when breathing and straining (in babies) is called laryngeal stridor.
Over time and with the persistence of unhealthy habits, such as the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, HPV can contribute to the development of tumor-like lesions in the mouth, pharynx, and larynx. When this happens, other symptoms may appear, such as:
- Swallowing problems
- Growth of masses or lesions.
- Tissue hardening.
- Bad breath.
- Darkening of the mucosa.
- Painless lesions.
How is HPV spread in the mouth?
It is little known how HPV is transmitted. There are different theories, but they have not been definitively confirmed:
HPV is quite common in the genital area. That is why it is suggested that oro-genital intercourse (mouth-penis or mouth-vagina) is a possible route of infection, but it is something that has not been proven. Although the sexual course is believed to be the most common form of the disease in the genital area, there is no confirmation that oral-genital intercourse is how this virus can settle in the mouth.
Genital infections are much more common than oral or respiratory infections.
HPV can be latent for many years, meaning it can “fall asleep” and have symptoms when defenses are down.
As there are many cases of HPV infection in newborn children, it has been suggested that during childbirth, a child can acquire this virus from vaginal lesions or the mother’s cervix, but this has not been confirmed either because there are children who were born by cesarean section and have these lesions, just as there are children with lesions and their mothers do not have HPV.
It is also suggested that a mother can transmit this virus to her child through the placenta when it is inside her womb. A hypothesis has not been fully validated, but traces of this virus have been found in the umbilical cord of mothers affected by HPV.
That is why it cannot be adduced to one form or another of contagion. The most important thing is the immune status of the person. If it improves, any such injury may improve.
Treatment of HPV in the mouth
Treatment depends on the symptoms and lesions in the mouth.
If it is a spot or a growing lesion, its complete removal can be attempted. That way, you ensure that it no longer grows or becomes malignant.
Airway injuries are often more challenging to treat. When they are removed, they usually reappear repeatedly, transforming into a complicated situation known as papillomatosis.
It is essential that the person with HPV lesions completely stop two habits that can lead to the lesions becoming malignant: alcohol consumption and smoking. This is key to improving the prognosis of injuries.
On the other hand, as I have told you, it is vital to improve your immune status so that your own body can defend you from this and any other virus. Your body can do so if you do not overload it and make it difficult for it to act. Good digestion is essential. If you absorb the nutrients well, your tissues will form properly, and your defenses will improve.
Eating a healthy diet, a good night’s sleep, exercising, and trying to reduce stress are the challenges that you can set yourself, which will surely help you improve your health.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to HPV in the mouth: symptoms, treatment, and how it is spread, we recommend that you enter our category of Teeth and mouth.
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.