Prescription Options for Treating Warts


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While over the counter wart treatments are heavily advertised and often sought, they can sometimes fall short of treating all your warts. In these cases a prescription equivalent of the non-prescription cream, pad, or plaster can prove to be more successful. Prescription treatments can either have a different mode of action, inducing an immune response for example, against the virus causing the wart, or simply be a stronger version of an over the counter treatment.

Where and when can I get prescription treatments for warts?

Prescription treatments are readily available from your GP or a dermatologist if they deem a certain prescription solution to be particularly helpful for your type of warts. While you can arrange to see your GP whenever you get your warts, it is generally recommended that you wait a while for common warts to clear up or try and treat them with non-prescription options before seeing your GP. This only applies to common warts, and not to any warts on your face, genitals, or inside your mouth, warts in these locations should be treated with more care because of the sensitive nature of the skin there.

What prescription treatments are available for warts?

There are a number of different prescription options available for warts, but which one is chosen for you will depend on your personal preference, a discussion with your GP, and ultimately what your GP chooses based on their experience as well. Different doctors will find that they have success with different treatments, so don’t be surprised if your prescribed treatment is different to a friend’s or a family member’s.

Imiquimod is a prescription cream that is applied topically and works by stimulating the body’s immune system to work against the virus causing warts, HPV (human papillomavirus). It does this by encouraging the release of a substance called interferon which is generated by your body to alert the immune system to a particular threat. Imiquimod is quite effective and can be prescribed against genital warts as well, but can be quite expensive in comparison to other drugs and options.

Podofilox is used fairly often, and is essentially a topical gel or liquid that you place on your warts for a month, twice daily and three days a week. Podofilox is a popular choice for treating genital warts, and is quite effective in clearing up the condition quickly and effectively.

Salicylic acid, the popular active ingredient in many over the counter wart treatments is also present, albeit in higher doses, in a number of popular prescription treatments. Salicylic acid is very effective in clearing up warts, although it isn’t suitable for facial warts for example because of the abrasive nature of the chemical and sensitive skin on your face. Sometimes over the counter salicylic acid isn’t enough to clear your skin but has some effect on the warts, it is in cases like these that your doctor will often suggest a higher concentration prescription cream or gel which often proves effective. Salicylic acid is extracted from willow trees and has a broad range of different cosmetic and medicinal uses. It is quite effective in treating inflammation and fevers as well as a number of different skin conditions including but not limited to warts, calluses, and corns.

Dinitrochlorobenzene (DNCB) is a substance not unlike salicylic acid in terms of its application and effectiveness, however the substance is not as widely used, and where it is applied extra care must be taken to avoid exposing healthy skin to DNCB. This is because the drug is able to cause mutations in the genes of healthy cells. DNCB has an impressive cure rate however, and works by causing an allergic reaction against the wart’s causative HPV virus.

While not a treatment as such and more of a preventative measure, the use of Gardasil, a vaccination against the human papilloma virus, can often be prescribed for individuals who are very susceptible to warts. Everyone’s body works differently, and some people are more vulnerable to HPV than others. Gardasil provides a level of protection against harmful strains of HPV that cause genital warts and have been linked to a number of cancers like cervical, penile, vaginal, and anal cancers.

Does a prescription treatment guarantee that I will be rid of warts?

Unfortunately while many prescription treatments are extremely effective at getting rid of warts and managing the human papilloma virus, none can guarantee that there won’t be a return infection. There is always a chance that you will be exposed to a different strain of the virus and develop warts again, although not necessarily in the same location. For these reasons prevention is extremely important, maintaining healthy levels of hygiene and avoiding contact with warts, as well as using protection during intercourse or avoiding sexual contact with those infected with HPV will all do much more to protect you against future infections than some drug treatments.


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