In the middle of winter, soaking in hot springs has become a leisure way for many citizens to relax their body and mind. Recently, the topic of “Hot springs can cause HPV infection” has attracted public attention. Some netizens said that in addition to soaking in hot springs, swimming may also cause infection; some netizens said that they contracted gynecological diseases after soaking in hot springs. Can hot springs and swimming really cause HPV and gynecological diseases? What problems can infection with HPV cause? How to avoid it? Recently, Hu Hailing, deputy chief physician of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Center of Hunan Occupational Disease Prevention and Control Hospital, answered questions for everyone.
Infection with HPV in hot springs is a small probability event
“Some time ago, I always went to hot springs with my boyfriend. A few days after I came back, I found a small raised bump on my neck, so I went to the hospital and was told that I was infected with HPV.” Recently, netizen Dandan (pseudonym) wrote in Xiaohongshu In a post on the Internet, she described that after taking a bath in a hot spring, she discovered a “reddish-brown pimple, which looked like a closed-mouthed pimple” on her neck. She tried many methods but could not get rid of the pimple. She went to the hospital for a checkup and found out it was a flat wart. Caused by HPV infection.
Hu Hailing introduced that the full name of HPV is human papilloma virus. It has many family members and more than 200 subtypes. After infection, it can cause the proliferation of squamous epithelium in human skin and mucous membranes. According to the oncogenic HPV virus, it can be divided into 14 high-risk and low-risk types: high-risk HPV, such as HPV16, 18, 33, etc., can cause cervical cancer, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer in women, and anal cancer, penile cancer in men, etc.; Low-risk HPV can cause common warts, genital warts (genital warts) and other benign lesions.
So will hot spring bathing cause HPV infection? Hu Hailing said that the probability of infection is very small, because the source of HPV infection is patients and virus-infected people, and it is mainly spread through the following ways:
Sexual transmission is the main route of transmission, and mucosal contact during heterosexual or same-sex sexual intercourse can cause infection; mother-to-child transmission, which is common in mothers infected with HPV in the reproductive tract and transmitted to newborns during delivery; skin-mucosal contact, In addition to the cervix, HPV can also infect other parts of the body, such as the mouth, throat, skin and anus, and induce corresponding lesions.
Generally speaking, HPV itself has strong resistance, but it is “resistant to cold but not heat”. It will only deteriorate at 55℃~60℃, while the hot spring temperature that the human body can tolerate is generally 40℃~45℃. In this temperature range, HPV can survive. Therefore, if hot spring water and swimming pool water contain viruses, and when the skin and mucous membranes are damaged, the human body may indeed be exposed to HPV and become infected.
In addition, if you soak in substandard water for a long time, pollutants or microorganisms in the water may enter the female vagina and destroy its acidic environment, which may cause bacterial vaginosis, fungal vaginitis and other gynecological diseases. Some hotel hot springs will provide public slippers and bath towels. If the disinfection is not up to standard, it can also create conditions for the spread of germs.
“Although there is a possibility of being infected with HPV while soaking in hot springs, it is a small probability event. You don’t need to panic too much.” Hu Hailing said that a positive HPV test does not mean that you have been infected with an STD, nor does it mean that you will definitely get cervical cancer. After an average woman has sex, the possibility of being infected with HPV in her lifetime is as high as 80%. After the human body is infected with HPV, it will activate its own elimination mechanism, and the immune system will clear the virus. Only long-term and repeated infections can lead to the risk of cervical cancer.
Both have “warts” in their names, but they are actually quite different.
In recent years, HPV and genital warts have become more known to more people. Many netizens “talk about warts” and believe that as long as they have “warts”, they are infected with HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. Some even stigmatize it as STDs. In fact, warts are not necessarily caused by HPV infection, because different types of warts have different causes and cannot be generalized. Warts mainly include genital warts, flat warts, common warts, and molluscum contagiosum.
Flat warts are caused by low-risk HPV-3 and 10, which form “little bumps” on the surface of the skin that protrude from the skin. Common warts are caused by low-risk HPV types 1, 2, and 4. They can occur in any part of the body, but they are more common on the hands, and are more likely to occur on the fingers and palms. Hand trauma or long-term immersion in water are common triggers. In addition, there are some special types of common warts, such as periungual warts, subungual warts, filiform warts, and digital warts. However, flat warts and common warts are not sexually transmitted diseases. The HPV subtypes that cause infection are different from those of genital warts, and the harm is not comparable.
90% of genital warts are caused by infection with low-risk HPV-6 and 11. Studies have also shown that high-risk HPV types, such as HPV-16, 18, 52 and 56, are present in 31% of genital wart lesions. Genital warts are burr-shaped. It is worth noting that genital warts generally only grow near the genitals. Genital warts are a sexually transmitted disease, and the transmission route has nothing to do with hot spring bathing. The current clear transmission method is through sexual intercourse.
Molluscum contagiosum usually occurs in children and is a contagious skin disease caused by infection with the molluscum contagiosum virus. It is commonly known as “water warts”. The skin lesions appear as characteristic waxy-glossy papules or nodules with a concave top that can squeeze out the caseous molluscum bodies.
If you want to enjoy hot springs with peace of mind, pay attention to these aspects
If you want to enjoy hot springs with peace of mind, Hu Hailing suggests that you should first choose a regular and hygienic hot spring place. In regularly disinfected hot springs and swimming pools, the survival rate of HPV will be greatly reduced. In addition, the concentration of HPV in large water bodies is extremely low, so the chance of contracting HPV when soaking in hot springs or swimming is very small.
Use personal items such as towels and slippers when bathing in hot springs and swimming; if the reproductive tract comes into direct contact with the toilet, towels, bath towels and other items of an HPV carrier, the possibility of HPV infection will increase.
Rinse your whole body before and after bathing in a public pool, especially after bathing. Use a clean special bath towel to wipe your body to reduce the risk of infection.
Although hot springs are good, they are not suitable for everyone. Hu Hailing reminded these groups of people who should not bathe in hot springs: women who are in their menstrual period, people who are allergic to hot springs, people with skin wounds, ulcers and serious infections, people who are drunk, after sex, or who are too full or too hungry. In addition, pregnant women are not suitable for bathing in hot springs. Because the water temperature of hot springs is higher and the water contains more minerals, and women’s resistance is relatively reduced during pregnancy, in order to avoid adverse health effects on pregnant women and fetuses, hot springs should be avoided during pregnancy. .
Elderly people suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, emphysema, anemia and other diseases should not bathe in hot springs. For this group of people, immersing in hot springs for a long time may cause discomfort such as sweating and dizziness. Especially when the outdoor temperature is low and the hot spring water temperature is too high, the alternating stimulation of hot and cold can easily cause blood vessels to dilate, causing discomfort.
People with severe arteriosclerosis and long-term high blood pressure who cannot effectively control should not bathe in hot springs. This group of people has reduced endothelial function and reduced blood vessel elasticity. When bathing in hot springs, hot and cold stimulation alternates, and blood vessels frequently contract and expand, which may lead to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular accidents.
People with allergies should be careful when bathing in hot springs. Long-term soaking in hot springs may cause the epidermal lipids to thin, causing dryness, scaling, and itching.