Medications for Human Papillomavirus

Your NYU Langone doctor may recommend one of four types of prescription topical medication to eliminate genital warts. Most warts respond within three months of therapy. It is not known how long a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection may remain contagious after treatment, and so you should continue using protection, such as a condom, during sexual activity to avoid spreading the virus. Because the treatment doesn’t cure the infection, the warts may return within three months of treatment.

Since some medications can damage the skin around the wart, they may be applied at the doctor’s office. Others are applied at home.

When choosing a medication, your NYU Langone doctor considers the number of warts you have, as well as their location and size.

Imiquimod

This topical medication helps eliminate warts by boosting the immune system. It is typically applied at home once a day, three times a week, for up to 16 weeks. You should avoid sexual contact while using this medication, because it can weaken condoms or vaginal diaphragms.

Podofilox

Podofilox stops the growth of cells that cause genital warts. It is applied to warts at home with a cotton swab twice a day for three days, followed by a rest period of four days. This can be repeated for up to four treatment cycles until the warts go away. Because genital warts may still be contagious during treatment, sexual contact should be avoided while using this medication.

Sinecatechins

Made from the extract of green tea leaves, these medications are used to treat warts on the penis, the vulva, and the outside of the anus. The most common side effects are burning, itching, redness, pain, ulcers, swelling, and rash.

Trichloroacetic Acid

This medication dissolves genital warts by destroying the proteins in their cells. It is typically used on small warts on the vulva, vagina, or anus. Because trichloroacetic acid can damage skin around the wart, it is applied in the doctor’s office. The treatment can be repeated weekly, as needed.

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