Wart removal cream

Other wart treatments: Hyfrecation | Cryotherapy

Local creams are applied by the patient on a regular basis for the removal of genital warts. The active chemicals in these creams produce local inflammation and result in the death of warty cells. They are also believed to activate a local immune response which helps in fighting HPV infection.

Effectiveness

60-70%

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Length of treatment

4-16 weeks

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Dosage

Varies

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Side effects

See below

In pregnancy

Not suitable

What are the commonly used creams to treat genital warts?

Commonly used prescription creams for the treatment of genital warts are: 

  • Aldara (Imiquimod 5% cream)
  • Podophyllotoxin, available as Warticon cream or Condyline solution
  • Catephen 10% ointment (extract from green tea leaves)

How do the local creams work?

Local creams are applied by the patient on a regular basis for the removal of genital warts. The active chemicals in these creams produce local inflammation and result in the death of warty cells. They are also believed to activate a local immune response which helps in fighting HPV infection.

The immune response produced by Aldara, one of the most common creams, has been well studied and this is the only locally applied treatment which has been shown to reduce the rate of recurrence of ano-genital warts.

    How effective are local creams?

    The reported efficacy rate of local creams ranges between 60-70%. The success rate of the treatment depends on the nature of warts, their size and the state of immune response against HPV.

    The other important factor is the degree of patient compliance to apply the cream as recommended for the duration of treatment and possible side effects. Many patients experience severe side effects and prevent them from applying the cream for sufficient length of time to produce results.

    Patients should be aware before undergoing any wart treatment that there are currently no treatments which are guaranteed to prevent warts from recurring.

    How long does the treatment take?

    The response of the Local Creams varies between patients, including when you first begin to show the improvement. Whilst many patients may begin to see improvement within the first month of using the cream, we recommend using the cream until the warts have gone away or you have been using the cream for 12-16 weeks.

    Are Local Creams the right treatment for me?

    The warts will be assessed by one of our specialists during a HPV-Wart consultation and the best course of treatment will be advised, depending on your individual circumstances. 

    Local creams are often recommended as the first line of treatment for those who have warts for the first time. They are also a useful option to those who cannot make regular clinical visits for Cryotherapy.

    Will my warts be suitable for topical creams?

    The warts will be assessed by one of our specialists during a HPV-Wart consultation and the best course of treatment will be advised, depending on your individual circumstances. 

    Local creams are often recommended as the first line of treatment for those who have warts for the first time. They are also a useful option to those who cannot make regular clinical visits for Cryotherapy.

    Will I need time off whilst using the cream?

    Patients will not need to take any time off work whilst using the cream. However, in exceptional circumstances where the skin becomes particularly sore, you may need to take things a bit easy for a few days.

    Are there any side effects?

    Side effects of this treatment include soreness, itchiness, weeping or burning at the site of application, though such effects are often mild and resolve themselves once treatment has been completed.

    The British Association of Dermatologists point out that these side effects are usually a sign that the cream is working and destroying the abnormal cells. In some cases, overuse of the cream can cause local skin reactions, so patients must ensure they follow dosage instructions accordingly. 

    Male patients who use Local Creams to treat warts under the foreskin, must ensure to wash their foreskin every day to avoid tightness of the foreskin (known as phimosis). 

    Female patients must take care when applying the cream, as the subsequent inflammation or swelling may cause pain when urinating (dysuria).

    The Cream can also exacerbate pre existing inflammatory skin conditions in some patients.

    It can also weaken latex condoms, so it’s important to use another form of contraception whilst using Local Creams to avoid pregnancy.

    I am pregnant. Can I still have this treatment?

    This treatment is not recommended during pregnancy or for those planning on conceive.

    Whilst warts can occur during pregnancy due to changes in your hormones and immune system, they often recede after the delivery. You may want to wait until after birth to use Local Creams, or consider Cryotherapy or Hyfrecation – the only safe options for treatment of warts in pregnant patients at this time.

    How can I get this cream?

    We do not keep Creams for genital wart removal in our clinic due to a more effective treatment option. For those who wish to start on the creams, we will offer you a private prescription which can be taken to any pharmacy.

    Page reviewed by Dr. Manoj Malu (Clinical Director)

    Last reviewed date: 3 July 2020
    Next review due: 3 July 2023

    Whilst this content is written and reviewed by sexual health specialists, it is for general guidance only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your clinician.

    If you think you may have Genital Warts

    It is important to refer to a healthcare provider as soon as possible. They can diagnose your lesions and discuss treatment options with you, along with any questions & worries you may have.

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