Warts often go away without treatment, particularly in children. However, there's no cure for the virus, so they can reappear in the same place or other places.
Medications to eliminate warts are typically applied directly to the lesion and usually take many applications before they're successful. Examples include:
- Salicylic acid. Over-the-counter treatments that contain salicylic acid work by removing layers of a wart a little at a time. For use on common warts, salicylic acid can cause skin irritation and isn't for use on your face.
- Imiquimod (Aldara, Zyclara). This prescription cream might enhance your immune system's ability to fight HPV. Common side effects include redness and swelling at the application site.
- Podofilox (Condylox). Another topical prescription, podofilox works by destroying genital wart tissue. Podofilox may cause pain and itching where it's applied.
- Trichloroacetic acid. This chemical treatment burns off warts on the palms, soles and genitals. It might cause local irritation.
Surgical and other procedures
If medications don't work, your doctor might suggest removing warts by one of these methods:
- Freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy)
- Burning with an electrical current (electrocautery)
- Surgical removal
- Laser surgery
Aug. 22, 2017
- Palefsky JM. Epidemiology of human papillomavirus infections. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 25, 2016.
- Warts. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/contagious-skin-diseases/warts. Accessed Jan. 25, 2016.
- Genital HPV infection — CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv.htm. Accessed Jan. 25, 2016.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs380/en/, Accessed Jan. 25, 2016.
- Castle PE, et al. Recommendations for the use of human papillomavirus vaccines. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 25, 2016.
- Goldstein BG, et al. Cutaneous warts. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
- AskMayoExpert. Nongenital warts: Patient-guided treatment (adult). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Anogenital warts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/warts.htm. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
- STDs during pregnancy — CDC fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/stdfact-pregnancy.htm. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.
- Patient education fact sheet: New guidelines for cervical cancer screening. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/Womens-Health/Cervical-Cancer-Screening. Accessed Jan. 28, 2016.