What is the treatment for genital warts?
Treatments for genital warts include medicines, freezing, laser, or surgery.
The type of medical treatment for genital warts will depend on:
- The number, size, and location of warts.
- The side effects of treatment.
- The skill of the doctor for each treatment option.
- The cost of treatment, which varies depending on:
- The cost of medicine.
- Any specialized equipment used.
- The number of treatments needed.
- The problems caused by the warts (such as blockage of the urethra).
- Your preference.
- If you are pregnant. Some wart medicines should not be used during pregnancy.
Genital warts can be treated in several different ways.
- Podophyllin resin - a brown liquid that removes genital warts by stopping cell growth. Podophyllin resin and podofilox lotion is painted on to the wart(s) by a doctor or nurse and must be washed off 4 hours later (or sooner, if the area is irritated). It has to be applied by a medical professional to avoid damaging the healthy tissue around the wart and may have to be applied several times to work effectively.
- Podofilox lotion/gel - can be applied to the wart(s) by the patient at home. The usual schedule is twice a day for 3 days, followed by 4 days without any lotion. This cycle is repeated for 4 weeks. It has few side effects and is well-suited for treatment at home.
- Cryocautery (also called cryotherapy) - uses liquid nitrogen to freeze more persistent warts every 1 to 3 weeks for a short period.
- Laser treatments - this approach, which uses an intense beam of light, can be expensive and is usually reserved for very extensive and tough-to-treat warts.
- Electrocautery - an electrical current is used to super-heat a needle which burns the wart cells and cauterises the blood vessels. A local anesthetic is used to prevent any pain and the procedure is usually carried out at a doctor's surgery. Electrocautery is used only after other treatments have failed.
- Surgical excision - the doctor will perform minor surgery to remove the wart