What is a Squamous Papilloma?

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  • Written By: T. Carrier
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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A squamous papilloma is a wart-like growth caused by viral infection of the skin. This usually benign growth can be found on various areas of the body but most often occurs in the mouth or genital regions. Squamous papilloma growths often present due to a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and are typically are not contagious. The name results from its unusual stalk-like structure.

Mucous-producing tissue comprises the squamous papilloma. The mass has small projections with pointed or rounded ends, and it can be pink or white due to overproduction of a protein called keratin. A typical size of roughly 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) or less may make the irregularity hard to detect. The lesions also tend to occur in small numbers. In fact, it is not uncommon for individuals to report only a single growth.

While a squamous papilloma can theoretically occur anywhere on the skin, it is most commonly found inside the mouth and throat or around the anal or genital areas. Skin infections are usually called warts, and genital infections — typically transmitted sexually — are known as genital warts. Regardless of location, the growths are often painless, though once present, they may remain for an indefinite period of time. Mouth infections are especially common.


An oral papilloma differs from other types of papilloma in a few important ways. While most of these growths are noncancerous in nature, a growth within the mouth does have a slightly higher likelihood of developing into a malignant mass. Oral papillomas also occur in greater frequency and are more likely to recur. As a result, they pose a potential respiratory risk if they overpopulate the throat.

Viral infections of the squamous cells in the skin’s epithelium are the usual culprits of a squamous papilloma, particularly the human papillomavirus. These double-stranded DNA viruses are so efficient because they can seamlessly integrate with the host’s own DNA. HPV viral types are also prolific, numbering 68. Types HPV-6 and HPV-11 most often lead to development of a squamous papilloma. On the positive side, this type of papilloma also has a low likelihood of contagiousness.

Treatments for squamous papilloma can range from doing nothing to minor surgery. If it is a non-intrusive and benign skin growth, the papilloma may be left alone for years with no consequence. On the other hand, if the growth becomes larger, unsightly, or otherwise abnormal, a medical appointment should be considered to eliminate the possibility of malignancy. A physician may subscribe keratinolytic agents containing lactic acid or a liquid nitrogen treatment for benign cases. Surgical removal may also be recommended.


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Discuss this Article

Post 5

Is there any cure for a woman's genital area? I felt inside and it feels like multiple growths, but no feeling of pain. What is it and what can I do to make it go away?

Post 4

A girl of five years has multiple oral lesions whitish-gray in color. Sometimes, they get worse with secondary infection, edema and sloughing of the mucosa of the lips and oral cavity.

She needed supportive treatment including IV fluid and antibiotics and NSAIDs. Biopsy was done and turned to be squamous papilloma. What is the best treatment for this girl?

Post 3

When the article says "low likelihood of contagiousness" for oral squamous papillomas, what is that likelihood exactly? However small, I take this to mean that there is still a risk?

Can someone with an oral squamous papilloma due to an HPV infection spread HPV through kissing or oral sex?

My boyfriend has what looks like a squamous papilloma in his mouth. He showed it to me and after some searching online, I found pictures of oral squamous cell papilloma that look exactly like what he has. I'm not sure how he got it but I want him to go to the doctor for testing.

Even if there is a one percent risk of infection, I'm not willing to take that risk so I'm keeping away from him. I don't have any squamous papilloma on my body. But if he turns out to be HPV positive, I will have to get tested too.

Post 2
@feruze-- I think squamous papillomas that are not on the genitals have less risk of developing into cancer. When your first papilloma was removed, did they do a biopsy on it? Usually the removed piece is sent to the labs to see if it was cancerous or not. If it wasn't, more than likely, this new papilloma isn't either.

It is true however that these can come up repeatedly. There isn't much that can be done about it other than keeping it under observation and having it removed if necessary. Polyps, which is another type of growth, are said to occur once. But papillomas can grow in multiple numbers and can come back after removal. And this can happen with a benign squamous papilloma too. So the fact that it returns isn't necessarily a sign that it's cancerous.

Post 1

I had a squamous papilloma removed from my nose last year. It was located inside and was blocking my nostril. I had started to have difficulty breathing through my nose.

The doctor removed it surgically under local anesthesia. The surgery was not hard, I went home the next day, it also healed very quickly. The bad part is that the papilloma has returned. It's been almost one year and it has come up in the same place!

Does this type of papilloma always return like this? I'm afraid that I will have to have it removed over and over again. My doctor said that removing them is the best treatment because squamous cell papillomas can turn into cancer, especially ones caused by HPV. I just hope that I won't have to have this surgery every year!

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