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Treating Genital Warts

Warts sometimes go away on their own. But if they remain, you should think about having them treated. Removing warts may help protect you by preventing cell changes that can lead to cancer. Depending on where the warts are, some treatments may work better than others.


Cross section of wart showing cotton swab applying cream to top of wart.
Medications can be applied to break warts apart.

Prescription creams and gels can be applied to warts and surrounding skin. Some prompt your immune system to rally against HPV (human papillomavirus), the virus that causes genital warts. Others are caustic agents that destroy warts. Medications can be applied at the healthcare provider's office or at home. Often, more than one dose is needed. These treatments sometimes cause skin rashes, irritation, burning, and itching. Talk to your healthcare provider about possible side effects.

Wart Removal

Cross section of wart with loop removing wart.
Warts may be removed using a heated wire loop as shown above.

Warts can be removed in a number of ways. These include freezing, cautery (heat), lasers, chemicals, and surgery. These procedures are done by your regular healthcare provider or a specialist. Before treatment, you may receive local anesthesia to numb the area. The number of treatments depends on the size and number of warts being removed. Your healthcare provider can give you more details.

Other Treatment Options for Genital Warts

As more is learned about HPV, new treatments are being developed to help the body defend itself. Your healthcare provider can tell you more about treatments that may someday be available. There is also a vaccine that can prevent HPV in young men and women. Your healthcare provider can tell you more.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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