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Home Genital Warts Genital Warts Treatment Options for Genital Warts

Treatment Options for Genital Warts

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The goal of any treatment should be to remove visible genital warts to get rid of annoying symptoms. No one treatment is best for all cases. Treating the warts may possibly help reduce the risk of transmission to a partner who may have never been exposed to the types of HPV that cause warts.
When choosing what treatment to use, the health care provider will consider the size, location and number of warts, changes in the warts, patient preference, cost of treatment, convenience, adverse effects, and their own experience with the treatments. Some treatments are done in an office/clinic, (typically over the course of several visits); others are prescription creams that can be used at home over a number of weeks.
Treatments done in an office/clinic include:

  • Cryotherapy (freezing off the wart with liquid nitrogen). This can be relatively inexpensive, but must be done by a trained doctor or nurse.
  • TCA (trichloracetic acid) is another chemical applied to the surface of the wart by a doctor or a nurse.
  • Electrocautery (burning off warts with an electrical current)
  • Podophyllin (a chemical compound that must be applied by a doctor or nurse). This is an older treatment and is not as widely used today.
  • Laser therapy (using an intense light to destroy warts). This is used for larger or extensive warts, especially those that have not responded well to other treatments. Laser can also cost a lot of money. Most doctors do not have lasers in their office and the doctor must be well trained with this method.
  • Interferon (a substance injected in to the wart). This is rarely used anymore due to extensive side effects and high cost. Less expensive therapies work just as well with fewer side effects.

At-home prescription creams (these are only available by a prescription from a health care provider):

  • Podofilox cream or gel (Condylox®). This is a self-applied treatment for external genital warts. It may be less expensive than treatment done in a health care provider’s office, is easy to use and is safe, but it must be used for about 4 weeks.
  • Imiquimod cream (Aldara®). This is also a self-applied treatment for external genital warts. It is safe, effective and easy to use. This cream is different than other commonly-used treatments, which work by destroying the wart tissue. Aldara actually boosts the immune system to fight HPV. It may take up to 16 weeks to work, but the treated area usually shows improvement sooner.

IMPORTANT: Over-the-counter wart treatments should not be used in the genital area. Also, treatments for HPV and warts offered on the Internet should be viewed with suspicion as they often make unproven claims, can be dangerous, and usually serve only to delay using more effective treatments.