HPV - How are Genital Warts Treated?

Cryotherapy usually uses liquid nitrogen to freeze off warts and other skin growths. BSIP/UIG Collection/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Question: How are Genital Warts (HPV) Treated?

Answer: In the absence of symptoms, HPV is not treated. Pre-cancerous cervical changes are treated by your physician according to your actual diagnosis. Genital warts can be left untreated, or they can be treated by one of the regimens below.

It's important to know that treatment does not cure HPV infection, and warts may reoccur. Therefore, some people do not find treating them to be worthwhile.

Others prefer to have the warts removed because they find them unsightly or uncomfortable. However, before choosing treatment, it's a good idea to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. Some treatments can be unpleasant or have the risk of significant side effects.

The drug regimens below were updated to reflect the the Centers for Disease Control 2010 STD treatment guidelines on 1/25/11. Remember that only your doctor can say which treatment is right for you.

Recommended Regimens for External Genital Warts


Podofilox>* 0.5% solution or gel. The gel is applied to visible warts twice a day for 3 days, followed by 4 days of no therapy. This cycle can be repeated up to 4 times
Imiquimod* 5% cream. This cream is applied daily at bedtime, three times a week, for up to 16 weeks. Sinecatechins* 15% ointment applied to warts three times a day for up to 16 weeks.


Cryotherapy warts can be frozen off with liquid nitrogen or a cryoprobe. This can be repeated every 1–2 weeks.
Podophyllin resin 10%-25%* in a compound tincture of benzoin that is applied directly to the warts. This can be repeated weekly, if needed.
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) or Bichloroacetic acid (BCA) 80%-90%* that is applied directly to the warts. This can be repeated weekly, if needed.
Surgical removal

Alternative Regimens

Intralesional interferon
Laser surgery

*The safety of these treatments during pregnancy is unknown.

Next: Learn more about HPV and cervical cancer...

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