There are many treatments you can use at home for warts. Many of these over the counter wart removal products use salicylic acid as the active ingredient.
These products work for most types of warts but often are not approved to be used on genital warts. So, when you have genital warts you are somewhat lost to figure out what to do to get rid of them. They are embarrassing and they are considered a STD (sexually transmitted disease) so you definitely want to have them gone before you get intimate with a partner.
Not having a large selection of OTC remedies makes things worse. And with many if not most health insurances not willing to pay for the removal by your medical professional this route is often also blocked. Your dermatologist will want a pretty penny to remove your condyloma (genital warts) and without an insurance paying for it you will be stuck with that bill.
While there are not many OTC treatments, there are a number of them that are capable to treat anogenital warts. Let’s have a closer look at some of them in the following so you know what options you have available.
There are quite a few possible solutions for your genital wart problem. Some require a doctor visit to get a prescription while others are available for purchase online or in your pharmacy around the corner. You can sometimes find prescription requiring medications online without having to visit a doctor. We would strongly advise never to purchase such medications without having your medical professional diagnose your condition and provide you with a prescription that matches your ailment!
Let’s look at the different genital wart creams and treatments that you have at your disposal to kill them off.
Let’s start with the remedies that many doctors prescribe:
Imiquimod is an immune response modifier. It’s widely used in Dermatology to treat a range of different skin conditions. These range from serious conditions like basal cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer) to non-life threatening ailments like anogenital warts. It was initially used mostly for actinic keratosis which are flat and scaly skin growths due to sun damage.
The principle under which Imiquimod works is that it stimulates your own immune system to fight the growths and/or damage to your skin. It is used topical on the area that needs to be treated and then gets your immune system to fight your wart cells.
Imiquimod gets your cells to produce more cytokines. These include a protein named interferon. Interferon is part of your body’s immune response. It destroys unhealthy cells on your skin by triggering an inflammation as part of the immune response.
There are a number of studies that prove the effectiveness of imiquimod to treat anogenital warts. One that combined imiquimod with a HPV vaccination used 36 patients. Within one year over 94% of people were clear of anogenital warts. The study used an Imiquimod cream with a 5% concentration. The results are shown in the screenshot:
You can get Imiquimod based creams in concentrations of typically 5% with a prescription. Once your medical professional prescribes the medication you can get it at your local CVS, Walmart, Walgreens or any other pharmacy.
There are two well-known Imiquimod anogenital wart creams available for purchase. Both differ simply through the concentration of the active ingredient. In the UK you can purchase these medications online with an online consultation. The companies allowing you to purchase these prescription medications have a medical professional on staff that provides the prescription after you fill out a questionnaire. We think that you should be careful about this as medications like Imiquimod do have serious side-effects and as you want to make sure you actually suffer from anogenital warts and not from any other skin disease!
Aldara contains Imiquimod in a standard 5% concentration. It comes in prepackaged sachets that you can apply on the skin.
The medication contains a number of inactive ingredients like glycerin, polysorbate 60 and sorbitan monosterate amongst others.
Aldara is one of the most common prescribed medications to treat anogenital warts. You shouldn’t be surprised at all if your dermatologist prescribes either Aldara or a Podophyllotoxin (see below) based remedy.
This medication, as the name already indicates, has a lower concentration. It contains 3.75% Imiquimod as its active ingredient. The inactive ingredients match the ones in Aldara which makes it basically the same medication except for the lower concentration of its active ingredient.
Imiquimod is often prescribed to treat medium to large sized anogenital warts at home. You, the patient, can administer this topical treatment yourself.
Typically, you will apply the cream once a day at bedtime. The usual advice is to wash the cream off in the morning. It should not be applied more often than 3 times a week and should also not be taken for a longer period like around 3 to 4 months. Make sure to follow the directions of your doctor or on the box to the dot!
You will have to be prepared to wait a few weeks before seeing any improvement. You also should not be sexually active after treating yourself with an Imiquimod cream. You will have to expect redness of the skin as well as some pain involved with the treatment. Some patients have reported that they had an inflammation of the treated area. Any severe side effects should immediately be brought up to your medical advisor.
It is also not recommended to use any Imiquimod based treatment if you are pregnant or immune-system compromised. Always discuss the use of medication that requires prescription with your doctor!
Podophyllin is a natural derived substance from the roots of the mayapple plant. The plant is also known as Mandrake or Podophyllum peltatum. Alternatively it is extracted from the Podophyllum emodi plant. This plant is usually found in North America and the Himalayas.
It has a long history in the treatment of HPV warts. First documents show that it was used as early as the 1940’s. Early use is documented through urologists in New Orleans. They used it to treat genital warts (condylomata accuminata). First successful use of podophyllin to treat plantar warts is dating back to 1948.
Podophyllin is a rather crude medication and has the potential to cause a lot of side effects. This is the reason why it has to be applied by a medical professional. Areas outside of the treatment location might need to be covered with Vaseline to prevent healthy skin to get in contact with the Podophyllin resin. You can’t use it at home and apply it yourself.
The remedy has to be applied in the exact amounts to avoid side effects. The application requires to be monitored closely and you can’t get to this required exactness in your home.
The application usually consists of a once a week application of the Podophyllin resin for a period of around six weeks. During that time the warts will typically die off. After the application at your doctor’s office you should wash off the resin after latest 4 hours to minimize any side effects.
Most times today you will no longer be exposed to Podophyllin to treat condylomata acuminate. There are safer medications with lower toxicity and higher efficacy available. Most of these you can apply at home and you won’t have to go to your doctor’s office to have them put on.
Podophyllin is overall a rather crude remedy that unfortunately has a lot of potential side effects. It also has quite high toxicity levels and it is not standardized. Most doctors today prescribe either a treatment using a Imiquimod based medication or use podophyllotoxin (see below).
This potent cream is often known better as Podofilox and Condylox. Most doctors prescribe this medication to treat genital warts. It’s a topical treatment where you apply the cream directly onto the warts to be treated.
Many doctors will prescribe a Podophyllotoxin cream. They usually are known best as Condylox or Podofilox.
Podophyllotoxin is extracted from the roots of the mayapple plant. This extract provides antiviral capabilities that fight the warts in your body. They also prevent wart cells from multiplying which eventually will kill your anogenital warts.
If you’ve read through the previous treatment option then you might be wondering why we list a second different option for a remedy that is also extracted from the root of the mayapple plant. However, there’s a significant difference between the two treatments.
As you can see in the section above, the BMJ Journals specifies (in very medical terms) that Podophyllin should not be used for treatment anymore due to its high toxicity and it being a non-standardized plant extract. Podophyllotoxin on the other hand is regulated and standardized and is a safe treatment for anogenital warts.
PubMed very clearly lays out to use podophyllotoxin as a first line treatment. It also clearly states not to use Podophyllin anymore as it’s not offering a high efficacy and also has high toxic levels.
Podophyllotoxin on the other hand is safe to use. It is a much cleaner remedy that is regulated and requires lower concentrations. It can be used at home safely while any treatment using podophyllin requires application through a medical professional.
Not only is it easier to use and cheaper than podophyllin, it is also more effective. Various studies have shown that the results are much better when using Podophyllotoxin cream. One such study is published in PubMed and shows that success rates are much higher with the safer option!
When prescribed and under monitoring from a medical professional, it is safe to use a podophyllotoxin cream at home to treat anogenital warts. The ingredient has proven to be highly potent and safe to use.
It is usually used in the form of a topical cream that you can administer yourself. The best results are achieved with clusters of small and soft anogenital warts that you can treat at home.
The substance infiltrates the cells it’s attacking and works to destroy the nucleus of the cell. This prevents the cells from continuing to duplicate and the growth of the wart stops and it eventually dies off.
The overall treatment area should not be too large. Otherwise, you run the risk of also preventing healthy cells from duplicating and that can cause undesirable side-effects.
The usual treatment regime is to use podophyllotoxin twice a day for three days. After that there’s a break of usually 4 days of no treatment. This is often enough for most smaller warts to vanish. For more stubborn warts the treatment can be repeated in such a cycle for a few weeks. Usually, it should not last longer than 4 weeks or so. It overall will depend on your doctor and how he advises you to use the medication.
During the treatment of anogenital warts with podophyllotoxin you should avoid sexual contact. It can otherwise cause skin irritation for your partner! It is usually also not recommended to use this medication if you are pregnant.
The medication is never to be used internally. It’s a topical cream and is for external use only. It is often the case that you will experience irritation in the treated area which can come with some light to moderate pain. If you experience any other side effects that are not noted on the package directions or that your dermatologist warns you about then stop using the medication. Ask your doctor to see you in those cases!
There are several genital warts creams that use podophyllotoxin as their active ingredient. None of these treatments is available over the counter. They all require prescriptions by a medical professional.
Condyline uses Podophyllotoxin in a 0.5% concentration. This is equivalent to concentrations having been researched through several studies and that have shown to be highly effective in the treatment of anogenital warts.
Condyline is also known as Condylox in the US. Another name you might have heard it being referred to is Podofilox.
Condyline has other (inactive) ingredients like lactic acid, sodium lactate and alcohol. Condyline can be purchased in the UK through online pharmacies. In the US you can get Condylox (Podofilox) with a prescription at pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens or Walmart.
Wartec is another brand that uses podophyllotoxin as their active ingredient. In some countries this treatment is also known as Warticon.
Its concentration is lower at only 0.15%. This makes it a more gentle remedy for genital warts in very sensitive spots.
Wartec or Warticon is available in many countries but you will have a hard time finding it in the US. All references to Wartec or Warticon in the US point to Condylox. As such you will not be able to have a prescription filled at CVS or Walgreens. You can check out the detailed review of Warticon for more information.
Next up are a few effective OTC remedies to treat condyloma acuminatum:
TCA is used for many different skin conditions. It can also be used to treat genital warts. As the name suggests, it is an acidic solution that will burn and cauterize the skin it comes in touch with.
Using it on a wart will kill the wart cells and eventually the wart will be destroyed and die off. Within the cells it attacks it destroys the proteins which causes the cells to die.
Trichloroacetic acid can be purchased in a variety of concentrations. In most cases you’d pick a concentration of 70% or higher to treat warts. The higher the concentration the more aggressive the treatment will be.
Genital warts are found in very sensitive areas of your body and going aggressive will equally result in more discomfort and pain. Should you choose to treat anogenital warts with TCA yourself then it would be advisable to dilute the acid before applying it. This results in a gentler approach to treat your warts with less of a chance for unwanted side effects in the surrounding areas.
You do want to discuss any treatment you want to perform at home with your doctor first. TCA can have serious side effects if used wrong and you want to ensure that it is the right treatment. In many cases your doctor might want to have trained medical professional administer the solution to ensure the best success while reducing the chances of any issues.
Applying TCA will often cause a painful burning sensation as you would expect from an acidic solution. You want to start using it in areas that are less sensitive first. From there you can try to move into more sensitive areas.
You typically will apply TCA with a cotton swab or cotton ball. You apply it to each lesion until the warts turn white. After the acid dried you want to wipe it off with cold water. Make sure you wipe any excess solution off while also making sure that you only apply the acid on the wart and not the surrounding healthy skin surrounding it.
TCA is often used by doctors when the patient is pregnant. This is due to the fact that it is reasonably safe to use during a pregnancy.
Salicylic acid is the most common active ingredient in over the counter wart removers. It is a peeling agent that peels off the outer layers of the skin. Repeated application will remove more and more layers until the wart is gone.
The acid is quite potent. Most of the OTC remedies that use salicylic acid are not to be used on genital warts. Yet, there are a few of them that are designed to be used on anogenital warts. Typically, tehse are using lower concentrations of the acid.
There are many studies and many thousands of patients that use salicylic acid to treat different kind of warts. Many institutions and government agencies warn to use this active ingredient against genital warts.
Yet, there are a few OTC medications that use salicylic acid to treat genital warts. These include two of the following we’re looking at below:
Somxl contains salicylic acid and Ozone as their active ingredients. However, the acid component is concentrated so low that most reviews for this product come back as negative. For further information check out the in-depth review of Somxl.
Wartrin, similarly to Somxl, uses salicylic acid in a very low concentration. That way it is safe to use on genital warts as well as other types of warts.
It also includes other ingredients that each by itself can be used to treat warts. These include Tea Tree oil, Vitamin E and Apple Cider Vinegar.
Overall, Wartrin can work but it will potentially take a very long time as the concentration is so low. You can check out a detailed review of Wartrin for further information.
You can find more information on how salicylic acid works on warts by reading through our post “Salicylic Acid Treatment for Warts ”. Do not use salicylic acid treatments like Wartrol or Compound W to treat genital warts.
Natural Genital Wart Removers
In addition to anogenital wart treatments that are available by prescription or over the counter, you can also find a few all-natural remedies. Some of these contain ingredients that have shown over centuries that they have healing properties.
You might find out though that many of these natural treatments take much longer to work than other remedies. Yet, if you value natural ingredients then this longer treatment period might be acceptable.
Pretty much none of these natural remedies has any scientific backing or studies that would prove that they work. However, many people have used them and in many cases they have used them successful.
Some of the best known naturals are Veregen Wart Cream and Nevi-Skin Wart and Mole Removal Cream. Both of these remedies contain various natural and herbal ingredients to fight warts and genital warts. There are both positive and negative reviews available for both products.
If you are searching for a potent natural and herbal remedy then have a look at Wart & Mole Vanish. It’s designed to treat a wide variety of skin issues including skin tags, moles and anogenital warts.
It has gotten a lot of positive reviews and feedback. The best part about it is that you only have to apply the remedy once. It takes about 20 minutes and the medication starts to work and typically will remove your genital warts within a few weeks with no further treatment needed.
Genital warts are considered a STD. The CDC states that before the HPV vaccine became used, around 340,000 to 360,000 women and men were affected by anogenital warts every year. This number only includes people that sought out medical help. You can safely assume that the real number is much higher every year.
Men usually develop genital warts on the penile area and the scrotum. Women mostly have genital warts around or in the vagina or vulva.
Both gender also often see genital warts develop around or inside the anus. The infection in those areas dramatically increases when anal sex is performed.
Having genital warts treated by your dermatologist quickly becomes very expensive. That’s why many people are looking at cheaper alternatives that can be purchased online or in your pharmacy around the corner like CVS, Walgreens or Walmart. Being able to purchase online for many people has the added advantage that there’s no embarrassing human interaction.
If you think you have genital warts then at least make sure to consult with your doctor to verify that what you have are indeed anogenital warts. It can then be a good choice to pick an OTC treatment to save money compared to sometimes more expensive prescription options. You also usually want to think of using creams instead of surgical treatments to minimize or eliminate the risk of scarring.
When it comes to prescription treatments you want to consider medications that use Podophyllotoxin (e.g. Podofilox or Condylox) or Imiquimod cream. The best option for OTC treatments at this time is TCA. However, you have to make sure that your dermatologist approves your treatment plan and verifies that you suffer from genital warts.
It will typically depend on the amount of warts and other factors that are specific to you. Where others see success within a couple of weeks, it might take a few months for you. The most important factor for successfully treating anogenital warts is that you consistently apply the medication until the lesions are gone. Perseverance is important when you want to get rid of your genital warts!