Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

HPV/Genital Warts Health Center

Font Size

Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus) - Medications

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 vulva, 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.

Recommended Related to Sexual Conditions

Syphilis and Men Who Have Sex With Men

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum . It has often been called "the great imitator," because so many of the signs and symptoms of syphilis are indistinguishable from those of other diseases.

Read the Syphilis and Men Who Have Sex With Men article > >

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 Abnormal Pap Test.

Treatment applied at home

The following medicines can be applied to the affected area (topical treatment) at home:

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:

Treatment during pregnancy

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 biopsied to rule out precancerous or cancerous conditions.

Recurrence

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.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

HPV Vaccine Future
Article
STD Overview
Slideshow
 
STD Facts Quiz
Quiz
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool
 
Sex Drive Killers
Slideshow
Genital Herpes Risks Quiz
Quiz
 
Young couple holding hands
Quiz
Herpes Vaccine Study
Video
 
Condom Quiz
Quiz
HPV Symptoms Tests
Medical Reference
 
Get The STD Picture
Feature
mother and daughter talking
Tool
 

WebMD Special Sections