You can find genital wart treatments in both over the counter and by prescription medications. Most doctors will tell you that over the counter remedies are to be avoided. These medications to treat genital warts often contain chemicals that can be abrasive or damaging to the skin.
The most common prescription medications used to treat genital warts are Podofilox, imiquimod, and TCA. Podofilox is available as either a liquid or a gel. This medication works by killing the genital wart tissue. You can use it at home, and it has been effective in about 65% of the cases where it has been used. Doctors often prescribe Podofilox because it’s safe and easy to apply. However, in the case of a pregnant woman treating genital warts, Podofilox can be harmful and may be a factor in causing birth defects.
Sometimes doctors prescribe a cream that contains imiquimod. This is another remedy that you can apply yourself at home. Imiquimod medications often cost more than Podofilox, but they are safer. Imiquimod fights genital warts by lending a helping hand to your immune system. It has been proven effective in about half of the cases where it has been used.
TCA, or trichloracetic acid, is a remedy that must be used at the doctor’s office. It is a caustic agent, and because it can be harmful to the skin, it cannot be used at home. The doctor puts TCA directly on the warts and it kills them. TCA is considered the most effective of the three treatment methods, but it is inconvenient and requires weekly trips to the doctor until the warts are gone.
There is also a medical procedure that can be used to treat genital warts along with a prescription medicine. This is alpha interferon, an anti-viral that is injected into the wart tissue. It is often not used because it is expensive and is not effective in preventing further wart outbreaks.
When considering treatment, remember that there is no cure. Genital warts are caused by the HPV virus, and getting rid of the warts does not do anything about the virus itself. Even after successful treatment for genital warts, you may experience outbreaks again in the future. Your doctor will recommend what he or she thinks is best, depending on the nature of your genital wart outbreak.
For more information, consult NIAID, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a specialized part of the National Institutes of Health. NIAID works to research, prevent and treat sexually transmitted disease like AIDs and HPV. You can find more detailed information on genital wart treatment by consulting their website.