Interferon for Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus)
How It Works
Interferon can kill viruses and prevent
them from reproducing. It also stimulates the body's
immune system to fight viruses, including the human
papillomavirus (HPV) that causes
Interferon is given by
injection just under the skin at the base of the wart. A common injection
schedule is 3 injections a week for 3 weeks or 2 injections a week for 8 weeks,
depending on the type of interferon. You are treated in your doctor's office or
Interferon also comes in a cream form that can be applied
to the skin, but it is less common.1
Why It Is Used
Interferon will not be the medicine
your doctor recommends first for genital warts. Interferon may be used when
other treatments (medicine or surgery) have failed or are not possible.
Interferon should not be used during pregnancy, because it may harm the
How Well It Works
It is unknown how well interferon
works when it is injected into the base of a wart. Some studies show that the
interferon cream can be helpful, but it is not available everywhere.1
Interferon injected into warts has more
flu-like side effects such as:
- Fever and chills.
- Pain at the injection site.
temporary decrease in white blood cells, which fight infection in the
- A decrease in the blood component that helps blood to clot
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Research studies continue to look
at how interferon can be used together with other treatments.
Genital warts may go away on their own. Also, treating genital warts may not
cure a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The virus may remain in the body
in an inactive state after warts are removed. A person treated for genital
warts may still be able to spread the infection. Condoms may help reduce the
risk of HPV infection.
The benefits and effectiveness of each type
of treatment need to be compared with the side effects and cost. Discuss this
with your doctor.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Buck HW Jr (2007). Warts (genital), search date
February 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence.
Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.