Healthcare provider explaining to patient whether HPV can be cured with antibiotics

Can HPV Be Cured With Antibiotics?

Medically reviewed on Nov 17, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a type of sexually transmitted virus that affects the cells within the body. Low-risk HPV strains may be asymptomatic or manifest as warts on the genitals or other parts of the body. High-risk HPV, on the other hand, can eventually lead to several types of cancer, with cervical cancer being the most common.[1]

This leads many people to ask: can HPV be cured with antibiotics? No, antibiotics are not an effective treatment for an HPV infection. In this article, we unpack why that is the case.

What Is HPV?

HPV is a viral infection. It’s most commonly transmitted through skin-to-skin contact during intercourse, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. However, there are also strains that can be transmitted by touching an infected surface.[1]

That said, there are over 200 types of HPV. People infected with low-risk strains may not have any symptoms. Other times, they can experience warts at the site of infection. When transmitted sexually, these warts can appear on the genitals, rectum, and anus. Other times, warts can appear on body parts like the hands, feet, and face.[2]

In fact, all warts are caused by the HPV virus. These warts appear rough and skin-colored. They can be either round, dome-shaped, or flat against the skin. They’re also extremely contagious and can be spread through sexual activity and direct contact, as well as cuticle and nail picking and shaving.[3]

People infected with high-risk strains, which include types 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, and 59 are at risk of several types of cancer. These include [4]:

  • Anal cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Penile cancer
  • Vaginal cancer
  • Vulvar cancer

However, up until the point when cancer develops, it’s likely that the patient will be completely unaware that they’re infected with the HPV virus. Typically, the virus can take several years to create cancerous cells.[1]

What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are used to treat a bacterial infection, not a viral infection. As such, they’re ineffective against HPV. When taken, they can kill bacteria, effectively stopping them from multiplying and spreading throughout the body. While an antibiotic does not treat HPV, they can treat such conditions as [5]:

  • Staph infection
  • Strep throat
  • Whooping cough
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Pink eye
  • Sepsis

How To Treat HPV

So, can HPV come back after receiving treatment? Yes – there is no cure for HPV. Rather, your body is likely to eradicate the virus itself in about one to two years. If you have a low-risk HPV strain that causes warts, your healthcare provider may prescribe a topical cream or medication to treat the warts directly, such as [1]:

  • Imiquimod (Aldara®)
  • Podofilox (Condylox®)
  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA)

They can also remove visible genital warts through such methods as [1]:

  • Cryotherapy – Applying liquid nitrogen to the warts to freeze and kill the infected skin cells
  • Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) – Using a specially crafted wire loop to remove warts, as well as potentially cancerous cells from the cervix.
  • Electrocautery – Burning the warts off of the skin using an electrical current.
  • Laser therapy – Applying a strong laser light to destroy both warts and abnormal cells.

How long do genital warts last? Discover more in our guide.

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How To Prevent HPV?

Individuals can reduce their risk of contracting HPV through practices like practicing safe sex. This involves using condoms, avoiding skin-to-skin sexual contact with an infected partner, and limiting the number of sexual partners you have.

For patients with high-risk HPV, regular screenings for abnormal cancerous cells can help prevent their growth throughout the body. Women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB) can undergo Pap smears, in which a healthcare provider will take a sample of the cervix to assess it for precancerous cells. Specifically, HPV is a large predictor of cervical cancer (more than 95% of cervical cancer cases are caused by the virus).[1]

An HPV test for women can also help to identify high-risk HPV types that can potentially lead to cancer, namely HPV type 16 and 18, which are related to over 70% of cervical cancer cases.

The risk of developing cancer in men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB) is relatively low, but still possible. Also, men who have sex with men (MSM) have a greater chance of catching HPV. While a genital Pap test is unavailable to these demographics, a healthcare provider can administer anal Pap smears to identify precancerous cells in the rectum and/or anus.[1]

Before infection, the HPV vaccine GARDASIL®9, can protect ages nine to 45 against nine types of HPVs that commonly cause cancer. They’re most effective when administered between the ages of nine and 12, although the vaccine is not guaranteed to fully protect patients against cancer, only reduce their risk.[6]

Everlywell: HPV Tests for Women And People AFAB

There is no cure for HPV, but it is possible to test for precancerous cells when infected with a high-risk HPV genotype. The Everlywell at-home HPV Test screens for several types of high-risk HPV strains, including 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, and 68.

To conduct the test, all you have to do is use a vaginal swab to collect a test sample and mail it to one of our CLIA-certified labs—all from the comfort of your own home. The results are physician-reviewed and sent to you using a confidential, HIPAA-compliant system. It’s never been easier to get reliable, discreet sexual health testing. Take even more control of your health and wellness and explore our online women’s health services today.

How Likely Is It To Get Throat Cancer From HPV?

Can HPV Come Back?

Skin Tag vs. HPV: Symptoms & Treatment Options


  1. HPV. Cleveland Clinic. Published August 4, 2022. URL. Accessed October 22, 2023.
  2. HPV and Cancer. NCI. Published October 18, 2023. URL. Accessed October 22, 2023.
  3. Warts. Cleveland Clinic. Published April 26, 20202. URL. Accessed October 22, 2023.
  4. HPV and Cancer. NCI. Published October 18, 2023. URL. Accessed October 22, 2023.
  5. Antibiotics. Cleveland Clinic. Published May 24, 2023. URL. Accessed October 22, 2023.
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