Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common viruses that afflict the skin and mucosa.
While it is outside the practice of aestheticians to treat warts by laser or electrocautery, it is possible to hit them in treating other conditions accidentally.
The plume would contain HPV particles, a potential threat of HPV infection of the oropharynx and/or larynx when inhaled.
Stetkevich & Burkhart (2021) reviewed several studies evaluating the occupational risks posed by HPV exposure from the plume, finding many dermatologists developed HPV-16– positive cancers of the oropharynx and/or larynx.
Due to the HPV viral particle size of 55 nm, mask-wearing during laser procedures is ineffective for preventing infection; even N95 masks allow penetration of some particles smaller than 300 nm.
Using a smoke/plume evacuator seems to be the most effective way to limit viral infection, although
needed to be used within 2 inches (5 cms) of the site of HPV lesion to be effective.
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