Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus)
Medicine may be used to destroy bothersome genital warts, relieve your symptoms, and reduce the amount of area affected by warts, particularly when the warts are:
- Visible, bothersome, and growing in a small area.
- A cosmetic concern and you want them removed. Warts that are growing around the anus or on external genitals, such as on the penis or Reference vulva Opens New Window, may be removed because they are unsightly. Some treatments that remove genital warts are more likely to leave scars. So cosmetic concerns about scarring may help guide the choice of treatment.
Topical medicine often is the first treatment. For safety, a doctor will apply the topical medicines that could damage the skin around the warts. You can apply other medicines at home. If warts return after one course of treatment with topical medicine, they are treated again only if there are clear reasons for retreatment.
Medicines are not used to treat abnormal cell changes found on a Pap test. For more information on treating abnormal cell changes caused by high-risk HPV, see the topic Reference Abnormal Pap Test.
Treatment applied at home
The following medicines can be applied to the affected area (topical treatment) at home:
- Reference Imiquimod (such as Aldara)
- Reference Podofilox lotion or gel (such as Condylox)
- Sinecatechins (such as Veregen)
Do not use these medicines during pregnancy.
Imiquimod and podofilox are typically the most effective medicine options that can be applied at home. Read the instructions carefully before using these medicines.
Treatment applied by a doctor
Treatment by a doctor can:
- Treat areas that you cannot reach easily.
- Treat a large area.
- Remove the warts quickly.
- Be expensive.
- Be painful.
- Have side effects.
Medicines applied by a doctor include:
- Reference Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or bichloroacetic acid (BCA).
- Reference Podophyllin resin.
- Intralesional (injected into wart lesion) Reference interferon.
- Reference Fluorouracil (such as Efudex).
Treatment during pregnancy
Reference Treatment for pregnant women includes trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and bichloroacetic acid (BCA), which have been found to be both effective and safe. Podophyllin resin, interferon, and fluorouracil should not be used during pregnancy, because they can harm the fetus.
What to think about
Avoid sexual contact in the treated area until the area is completely healed.
Some medicine may be more expensive than others.
Warts on the vulva or penis that do not go away on their own or after treatment often are Reference biopsied Opens New Window to rule out precancerous or cancerous conditions.
Removing genital warts does not cure an HPV infection. Warts may go away with topical treatment, but they may return, because HPV may still be in the body's cells.
Even if genital warts have been removed or destroyed:
- You may still be able to infect sex partners with HPV.
- You should continue to use condoms during sexual intercourse if you have multiple sex partners.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference June 21, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology