Sexual Health Q&A

How are genital warts treated?

While some types of genital warts go away on their own, it’s important to seek a doctor’s care for them. Doing so can reduce the risk of transmission and relieve any symptoms, like pain or itching.

Some doctors prescribe creams or ointments that a patient can apply at home. Genital warts might also be treated at the doctor’s office by one of the following procedures:

• Cryosurgery (freezing off the warts with liquid nitrogen)
• Excision (cutting the warts out)
• Electrocautery (using an electric current to remove the warts)
• Laser treatment (removing the warts with a laser light)

If these treatments are not successful, an antiviral medicine may be injected into the warts themselves. Surgery may be another option.

Genital warts should not be treated with over-the-counter products used to treat other types of warts, such as those that appear on the hands or feet. Those products are not meant for genital warts and may irritate the area even more.