If (like me) you’re a public toilet hoverer and tube escalator hand rail-avoider, it seems our cautionary habits have been vindicated: turns out, you can get HPV from confetti.
One TikToker recently shared that she’d gotten the Human Papilloma Virus – usually considered a sexually-transmitted infection – from harmless-seeming confetti.
And Dr. Karan Raj went on to state that it’s possible to catch the ridiculously common virus via everything from going barefoot in the gym to getting a manicure (and yes, theoretically, even from grabbing confetti).
Here’s what he had to say:
HPV is very, very common – and usually harmless
Dr. Raj says that “you, and everyone you know, has probably had HPV.”
He says that “there are over a hundred strains” of the virus, adding that “the majority of these are not cancer-causing” and that your body will likely “clear” most infections.”
The NHS says that “Most of the time HPV does not cause any problems”, though it can sometimes lead to “genital warts” and can even create “abnormal changes in the cells that can sometimes turn into cancer.”
Thankfully, though, this is rare.
So, how come it’s everywhere?
Despite common misconceptions, HPV isn’t always spread through sex.
Raj says that “fomite transmission” – the spreading of disease through touch – is a common culprit.
This can come from touching surfaces, like handrails, gym floors, and yes, theoretically, even confetti.
But the doctor says that most cases come from “skin-to-skin contact”. And while it is possible that you can catch a case from confetti, he adds that “it’s almost impossible to trace where, specifically, you might have contracted HPV.”
So, uh... any advice?
Dr. Raj says we shouldn’t let an extreme fear of HPV “stop (us) from enjoying confetti.”
Instead, he suggests we wash our hands regularly, and the NHS say that “The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that cause most cases of genital warts and cervical cancer, as well as some other cancers.”
Basically, if you’re as germ-phobic as I am, you can probably relax a little – basic hygiene should have you covered, and catching the virus likely won’t hurt you long-term.
Still, do get screened regularly for other conditions if you’re indulging in what Dr. Raj rather poetically termed “bedroom gymnastics”...