Medical Treatment: Topical Medications for Genital Warts

After diagnosing your genital warts, your doctor will probably recommend a topical medication as the first line of treatment. Out of the medical options of treatment for genital warts, this method is the least invasive.

Topical medications are best when genital warts are visible, bothersome, and growing in a small area. If the warts are a cosmetic concern and you want them removed, a medicated topical treatment will remove the warts. Concerns about scarring may also guide your treatment and the type of medication used, since some wart removal methods do cause scarring.

There are two classes of topical medication that may be used for treating your genital warts. One type of medication is the kind you apply yourself, and the other is applied by your doctor.

Genital Warts Medication Applied At Home

Before using any treatment, talk to your doctor about your medical history to make sure that any given treatment option is safe for you. Make sure to read and follow the application directions on the label carefully.

    Podofilox lotion or gel (Condylox): The exact mechanism that causes this treatment to work isn't known. Applied topically twice a day for 3 days followed by a 4- day rest period. May be repeated for 4 cycles until warts go away.

    Podophyllotoxin solution (Condyline, Wartec): Makes warts shrink or disappear by preventing cell growth. Applied twice a day for 3 days with a rest period afterwards for up to 5 weeks.

    Imiquimod cream (Aldara): Enhances your body's immune response to the HPV infection. With treatment, your body seems better able to suppress warts, and they are less likely to recur than with other treatments. Seems to work better on women than men because of differences in genital skin.

Side effects of the above treatments include tenderness, redness, itching, pain, ulceration, burning, bleeding, dizziness, headache, vomiting. Discontinue use and see your doctor if side effects are moderate to severe or if they worsen.

Genital Warts Medication Applied By You Doctor

Topical medication for genital warts may be applied by your doctor because there's a possibility of damaging the skin around the wart if it's applied improperly. It is also easier to treat large areas and areas you can't easily reach yourself. These methods usually work faster than the medications you apply yourself. They are also more expensive and they may be more painful or have more side effects. Medications include:

  • Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or bichloroacetic acid (BCA)
  • Podophyllin resin (Podofin)
  • 5% fluorouracil cream (Efudix, Fluoroplex)

If warts reoccur after one round of topical treatment, they are treated again only if there are clear reasons for doing so. At this point, your doctor may talk to you about surgical genital wart removal or interferon. However, before you go to extremes, look into alternative options.

Not all medical treatments are safe for pregnant women, so if you're pregnant talk to your doctor about genital warts treatments that will be safe for you.