When you have genital warts, you want them to go away fast. Not only are these growths uncomfortable, itch, and unsightly, having them increases your chances of passing the disease that causes the warts onto other men and women. There are numerous prescription and over the counter remedies available that can help you get rid of genital warts. The best one for your condition, however, will depend on the size, type, and location of the warts you have. Here’s a description of the various remedies on the market to help you choose the best one for you.
Most treatments for genital warts are topical ones that are applied directly to the growths that pop up on male and female genitals to speed up healing time or minimize symptoms. One thing to keep in mind when using these treatments is that they can reduce the effectiveness of certain birth control products such as condoms and diaphragms. While you should avoid all sexual activity during an outbreak, if you want to continue having sex, talk to your doctor about the effect a remedy may have on your preferred birth control method and take proper precautions.
Podophyllotoxin is a liquid medication that eradicates warts by poisoning the cells in the growths. It is usually recommended as a treatment for warts that grow in clusters in the genital area such as on the penis, scrotum or vagina.
This medicine is applied in cycles using a special applicator stick to drip the liquid onto the warts. For instance, you will usually have to apply podophyllotoxin to the warts twice a day for three days, wait four days, and then repeat the process for up to four or five treatments until the warts disappear.
- Imiquimod Cream
If your warts are large, you may be best served by using Imiquimod cream to treat them. This medicated cream eliminates big warts by stimulating your immune system, which then sends out white blood cells to attack the growths. The cream is applied to the affected area three times per week and left to sit for 6 to 10 hours each time, after which you’ll need to wash it off. You can expect to see results after several weeks of consistent use, but you may experience mild irritation that should go away after a short period of time.
- Trichloraecetic Acid
If your warts are small but hard, this may be a good remedy for you. The medication kills the warts by destroying the protein found in its cells. It’s very effective, but it can damage the surrounding skin if you’re not careful when you apply it. In fact, you may be required to visit a doctor once per week to have the medical professional apply the medication for you.
You may experience a burning sensation after application, but this should subside within five to ten minutes. Unlike the previous two medicines, this one is believed to be safe for pregnant women to use.
This is an antimitotic drug that kills the warts by inhibiting cell division. Like podophyllotoxin, it is applied in cycles: twice a day for three days followed by four days of rest for up to four cycles. Many times, your doctor will apply the first treatment to show you how to do it. Afterwards, you’ll only need to follow up if you begin experiencing complications or the treatment doesn’t work.
The medication may cause the skin to become irritated and you may experience mild to moderate pain, both of which will subside once treatment ends.
- Sinecatechin Ointment
This substance is extracted from green tea and may be effective at reducing the number of genital warts or eliminating all of them completely. The medication comes in ointment form that must be applied three times a day for a maximum of 16 weeks.
The most common side effects associated with this medication are itching, burning, edema, rash, and pain. It can reduce the effectiveness of barrier birth control methods such as condoms and diaphragms, and it is not recommended for immunosuppressed individuals such as those with HIV/AIDS.
- Podophyllin Resin
This is a topical medication crafted from extracts from the Mandrake plant that has been used to treat genital warts as early as 1942. Typically it’s applied once per week to the affected area and left on for one to four hours each time before being washed off. It can cause skin irritation and is not safe for pregnant women to use. However, it can be used to treat genital warts that form on the penis, scrotum, vulva, or anal region.
If medication doesn’t work for you or you’re looking for a faster way to get rid of the warts, there are a few surgical options that may be beneficial. All of these treatments must be performed by a trained medical professional. However, they are typically covered by health insurance policies.
In this procedure, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the warts; after which, the doctor will scrap or cut the now dead wart tissue away. This procedure is best used to remove small warts that appear on the penis shaft or around the vulva.
Cryotherapy is not particularly painful, but you may feel a burning sensation when the warts are being frozen. It usually takes about one to three weeks for the treated skin to heal.
For warts that appear around the vulva or anus that don’t respond to treatment, electrosurgery may be used to get rid of them. This is a surgical method that burns the warts away by passing electricity through a metal loop that’s wrapped around or placed against the warts. The doctor may then use a scalpel to cut away any residual wart tissue left behind.
Because this type of surgery can be very painful, an anesthetic is usually given prior to the start of the procedure.
This is a basic surgery where the doctor cuts away the warts using a scalpel. It’s typically recommended for removing small hard warts or warts that have combined to form a cauliflower-shaped lump. The treated area is numbed prior to the procedure and the cuts are typically closed using stitches.
The surgery can leave behind scars, so you only want to use this procedure on small warts. Additionally, the area may be sore or painful for one to three weeks afterwards.
- Laser Surgery
For large warts that may be difficult to get to using other surgical methods (e.g. those in the anus, vagina or near the urethra), the healthcare professional may eliminate them using laser surgery. In this procedure, the doctor uses a laser to cut away the warts. You may be given local or general anesthesia depending on the number of warts being removed and their location.
There may be soreness and irritation at the treatment site for about two to four weeks after the procedure.
Once you receive treatment for your genital warts, it’s essential that you take steps to promote the healing process, avoid aggravating the treated area, and prevent the spread of the disease. This includes:
- Not scratching even if it itches badly. This will only irritate the area further and cause inflammation.
- Washing your hands before and after touching the warts to avoid passing them onto other people or spreading them to other parts of your body.
- Practicing good hygiene and washing the area every day. Be sure to dry thoroughly.
- Applying a cold compress to the area or taking an over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or ibuprofen if you’re experiencing discomfort.
- Waiting to have sex until the warts disappear.
- Not smoking as smoking can interfere with the effectiveness of some treatments and increase your risk of experiencing side effects.