Are there any treatments for genital warts?
The best treatment for genital warts depends on the specific type of warts and their location on the body.
There are several prescription treatments for genital warts, but there is no cure for the human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes them. Prescription drugs and medical procedures are effective ways to treat them. Genital warts are not easy to treat and may come back even after successful treatment.
Historically, people have used herbs such as rue, agrimony, apple, bloodroot, and corn cockle to treat common warts on the hands and feet. Rue should not be used in pregnant women as it has been linked to fetal death in various cases. There are alternative therapies that claim to help treat genital warts, but there is no clinical proof that these therapies are effective or even safe to use.
Unfortunately, there are no over-the-counter treatments for genital warts on the market today. Prescription drugs and surgery are the most effective treatments for genital warts. Condoms can prevent the spread, but they can still spread to and from areas not covered by a condom during sexual contact.
Prescription drug treatments for genital warts include imiquimod (Aldara®), a cream that you apply directly to the warts three times a week for up to 16 weeks. Imiquimod clears genital warts in about 50% of people treated. Podofilox (Condylox®) is another prescription gel or liquid that you apply directly to the warts twice a day, three times a week, for up to four weeks. Podofilox clears genital warts in about 65% of people treated. You must be careful to avoid treating healthy skin as podofilox can irritate it. You may use these treatments at home.
Doctors may also remove genital warts with chemicals, freezing, or surgery. Chemical treatments require up to six applications and clear genital warts in about 70% of people treated. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) is an example of a chemical treatment that should only be applied by a doctor. Cryosurgery (freezing) requires up to six treatments and clears genital warts in about 80% of people treated. Standard surgery usually takes one or two treatments and clears genital warts in about 70% of people treated.
Back to Ask a Pharmacist