How to Get Rid of Genital Warts: 5 Main Treatment Options

Updated in January 2024

You can get rid of genital warts through several treatment approaches, such as ointments (liimiquimod or podophyllotoxin), acids, cryotherapy, electrocauterization or surgical removal. 

Genital warts are the result of HPV, or human papillomavirus, which is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Treatment for genital warts is generally the same for men and women.

Also recommended: HPV in Men: Symptoms, Transmission & Treatment

Treating genital warts may vary depending on the characteristics of the warts, such as their location and size. You are advised to consult a dermatologist, gynecologist or urologist for assessment and to ensure the most appropriate treatment for each case.

Imagem ilustrativa número 2

Main treatment options

To get rid of genital warts, your doctor may consider the following treatments:

1. Ointments or creams

Ointments or creams for genital warts, such as imiquimod or podophyllotoxin, work by stopping the HPV virus from multiplying or by reducing the immune system's response to the virus. They must be applied to the warts as prescribed by the doctor.

2. Acid application

You can also get rid of genital warts by having trichloroacetic acid applied to the warts on a weekly basis. These acids are corrosive and help to destroy them. However, these acids can be very irritating to healthy skin, which is why they are typically applied by a doctor in a clinical setting.

3. Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy consists of eliminating the genital wart by applying liquid nitrogen to destroy the wart cells. This treatment is most effective in cases where the warts are small clusters, and found on the shaft of the penis or near the vulva.

The treatment of genital warts with cryotherapy is normally done in weekly sessions. Up to 4 sessions may be necessary in some cases.

4. Electrocauterization

Electrocautery is a technique that destroys genital warts by applying an electric current and heat to destroy the cells. It can be done with local or general anesthesia, and is most suitable for treating small genital warts on the shaft of the penis or vulva.

Sometimes, it can be combined with surgery to remove large genital warts around the vulva or anus that have not responded to topical treatments using ointments or acids.

5. Surgery

Surgical removal of genital warts can be done using local or general anesthesia, depending on the size of the warts and the area of skin affected. Surgery is most efficient in treating genital warts that are small and hardened or have joined together. This procedure can leave scars in some cases.

Also recommended: Warts on Penis: What Causes Them, Symptoms & Treatment

Natural remedies

Home remedies for genital warts should be done to complement the medical treatment prescribed by a your doctor. It consists of daily consumption of foods that are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and/or folic acid, such as tomatoes, radishes, oranges or mangoes, which boost immunity

Another home remedy for genital warts is performing sitz baths to relieve discomfort that may arise in the area after the application of acids or cryotherapy sessions.

Signs of improvement or worsening

Genital warts generally start to show signs of improvement once treatment is complete. The warts will begin to reduce in size, become flat and then disappear. 

However, when treatment is not adhered to or if the warts are resistant to treatment, you may notice an increase in the number and size of warts in the genital region. In this case, you should return to the doctor for further assessment. Genital warts that are not treated can increase your risk for cancer.