Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) plagues roughly 79 million Americans, making it the most common type of sexually transmitted infection. Not all strains of HPV cause genital warts, but for those who become plagued with them, there are treatments available. Surgery is the most extreme option, ranging from in-office procedures to surgery done under general anesthesia. For a much less invasive treatment, consider topical creams. These options range from prescriptions that can be applied at home, to creams or gels that require a physician to do the application. Genital warts can spread to all areas of the genitals in both sexes. To learn more about vaginal warts, click here.
Table of Contents
How Do Genital Wart Remover Creams Work?
Different types of creams use various kinds of methods to rid the genital warts from the skin. Sometimes, a certain mechanism of action will work better for one person’s warts than another type.
- Viral Inhibitors: Some creams and gels target the HPV virus itself. Medication that has markers specific to HPV penetrate into the layers of skin, finding the viral particles and destroying them, also killing the wart cells along with it. With the actual virus gone underneath the skin, it decreases the rate of recurrence.
- Cytotoxicity: There are medicated creams used for genital warts that target the growths specifically rather than the virus itself. The medication specific to the cream or gel penetrates the growth, killing the cells completely until the entire wart is gone.
It is important to note that although medication will get rid of your genital warts, the HPV virus that causes them cannot be cured. This means that you will most likely have several outbreaks during the course of your life that come and go. Once infected, the type of HPV that causes genital warts will settle in the genital region, lying dormant for a time. Sometimes, the viral particles will activate, multiplying in a concentrated area until it comes through the skin as a wart. Eventually, the virus will become dormant again, lying in wait under the skin until it reactivates at a later date, causing a new outbreak. Read more about genital warts in men, here.
Using Over the Counter Creams for Genital Warts
The most often recommended method of treatment for genital warts is prescription medication through a physician. But there are costs that come along with this option. The price of the medication, doctor’s fees, and sometimes facility fees will vary depending on your health care coverage. Time can also be a factor. Many trips to the doctor may be necessary in some cases for genital wart treatment, and in the case of surgery, there may be recovery time to consider.
For people who cannot afford it or just want to have more control over their treatment, there are over the counter options available. Remember to always discuss the usage of these products with a doctor if you are pregnant.
- Somxl (Active Ingredient – Bio-oxidive Ozone): This cream is cytotoxic and uses Salicylic Acid and Ozone to combat genital warts. The acid penetrates into the growth, destroying the cells and thus making the wart decrease in size until completely clear.
Retail price: $23.95.
Terrasil Anti-Fungal Treatment: This cream is homeopathic, and contains no acids, dyes, parabens, or chemical agents. The unique, natural ingredients come together to help kill off your existing genital warts. Ingredients include Magnesium Oxide, Silver Oxide, Thuja Occidentalis, and Beeswax.
Price ranges: from $24-$36.Warning
Just like any medication, treatments for genital warts can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Allergy symptoms can include redness, itching, and a rash. Symptoms of a serious drug allergy include difficulty breathing, swelling, hives, pain, and dizziness. Always inform a doctor about any suspected drug allergy. For a severe reaction, get medical help right away.
- Vidarox Antiviral Formula: Vidarox uses small antiviral particles that absorb through the skin all the way into the HPV infection at the base of the genital wart. The medication destroys the virus all the way through the growth, reducing the chance of another outbreak in the same area, while also helping to shrink the wart until it’s gone. This cream contains Tea Tree oil to help soothe the sensitive skin of the genitalia and speed up healing time.
Cost: starts at $55.95.
The Best Prescription Creams for Genital Wart Removal
When you need to combat genital warts, consulting a physician can be a good idea. Not only are they trained to deal with sexually transmitted infections, they can get you a prescription for a topical cream or ointment that will kill the warts you suffer with. There are some medicated creams that the physician will need to apply in their office, and if surgery is required, you will need the expertise of a doctor who can handle it. You may choose to go to a medical professional such as a dermatologist, general practitioner, gynecologist, or urologist. Some state health clinics also offer services for sexually transmitted infections.
There are several different creams that your health care provider may choose to prescribe and all will vary in cost, depending on your health care plan:
Imiquimod (Aldara 5% Cream by MEDA): Also known as Aldara, this prescription cream penetrates the genital wart and kills its cells, shrinking the wart until it’s gone. Always be careful to apply the cream only to the wart itself. Do not have sex while Imiquimod is on your skin, as it can compromise the function of a condom or diaphram.Most people with genital warts will experience several outbreaks.
- Podofilox gel (Condylox Gel 0.5% by Watson): This gel, also known as Condylox, is known to be effective at killing the tissue of a genital wart. Your doctor will show you how to apply it, then give you prescription to bring to a pharmacy. Be careful to apply Podofilox only to the wart itself and not to the sensitive skin around it, as it can cause irritation.
Trichloroacetic acid 80% TCA: This is a cream used sometimes in chemotherapy, and works to kill the wart cells and shrink the growth into nothing. Because of its acidic nature, trichloroacetic acid is most often administered by a doctor, who can carefully apply it to only the genital warts, making sure that the sensitive skin around them stays untouched. Several different visits are required to completely kill the outbreak of warts.Information
HPV is the most common, most contagious sexually transmitted disease. Because of its high rate of transmission, it is essential to practice safe sex and discuss your genital warts with any sexual partner. Prevention of HPV is much easier than trying to manage it for a lifetime.
- Podophyllin Resin (Podocon-25 by Paddock Laboratories, Inc.): Similar to Podofilox, Podophyllin Resin is administered by a physician. It is very damaging to live tissue, which makes it effective at destroying a genital wart, but also dangerous to healthy skin. A doctor is trained to apply the resin directly onto the wart and nothing else, ensuring that the very sensitive skin around the genitals is left unharmed. Podophyllin Resin should be washed off after about 6 hours.
Why Treat Genital Warts?
While most genital warts will go away on their own over time, it is still beneficial to seek treatment that will get rid of the growths. One reason is that genital warts can sometimes spread to grow in places like the urethra. If warts gather around this area, urine output can be slowed or blocked completely, leading to severe urological problems, and infertility in men.
When genital warts appear on the cervix in women, it can also be problematic. HPV has been found to be the number one cause of cervical cancer. Gardasil, a vaccine, was created specifically to prevent infection of the type of HPV that causes the genital warts that can lead to cervical cancer. It is recommended for both boys and girls in their preteen years before becoming sexually active. Since HPV is so highly contagious, the vaccine is a wonderful precautionary measure.
Wonder why genital warts are contagious? Click here to find out.
What NOT to use
If you have a wart, then all wart removal medications will work the same with treatment, right? Wrong. If you have genital warts, do not ever use removers that are designed for warts in other locations on your body. Only ever use creams, gels, or ointments specifically made for use on the genitals when dealing with genital warts.
The tissues that make up the vagina and penis are different than the rest of your body. They are more delicate and contain many more nerve endings, making them more susceptible to damage from corrosive medications. If the skin on the genitals is damaged, it doesn’t just cause more pain, there can also be damage to nerve endings and different secretory glands that play a part in reproduction and sexual pleasure. When in doubt, always consult a doctor when it comes to genital warts – you can never be too careful.
Genital warts seem like they might be terrifying – they are extremely contagious, their viral source can never be cured, and they can be unsightly and irritating. Thankfully, modern medicine has provided the world with a large amount of options when it comes to treatment for genital warts. Creams, whether prescription or over the counter, provide relief and kill the warts when an outbreak creeps up. If you find yourself a victim of genital warts, take advantage of one of these topical creams and get rid of the warts before they affect your life.