Over-The-Counter VS. Prescription - What Kills The Wart?


Jan 4, 2004


The Bottom Line Salicyclic acid maybe good for a wart or two, but multiple warts may require more aggressive treatments.

Recently I fought a battle, it was me against HPV, the virus that causes warts. Many people find warts to be very embarrassing and even sometimes painful. In a previous review, I compared salicyclic acid which is an over-the-counter treatment versus cryotherapy which is done only through a medical professional. Well, you might wonder, are there any other choices of medication against the dreaded wart? Well, here's what you should know...

-Salicyclic Acid... Oh Yes-
*Salicyclic acid proves to be a moderatly expensive option against warts. It can get to be very annoying and requires one to be responsible with the wart treatment. Salicyclic acid can be administered through pads, liquid, or gel. This can be a very time consuming process and also requires maintenance by having yourself take off the dead tissue. For some, it may completely get a wart out, and for some it will be purely dreck which will take off a lot of tissue but not all of it. But then again, there's something missing...

-Human Papillomavirus & Multiple Warts-
*Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the virus that causes warts. When people might just have a single wart, treatments from salicyclic acid, cryotherapy, electric needle and what not can usually get rid of the wart without it coming back. However, since it's a virus, it's prevelant throughout your entire system. So if let's say you have three or more warts anywhere on your body, you'll most likely have them come back since it's a viral infection. This is where you can be wasting lots of money on treating multiple warts. The liquid and gel can run out fast, and you'll be spending a little under $10 for a bottle or for pads. Alright, so by now you seem a little discouraged, ay?

-Imiquimod... What Is It?-
*A more severe version of warts is genital herpes. Unlike common warts, genital herpes can be easily transmitted by sexual activity. Therefore, genital herpes needs more aggressive treatments which include prescription and other procedures done by health professionals. The most popular drug used to treat genital herpes is Valtrex, but then there's another drug that's less widely known. The drug is imiquimod, which is marketed as Aldara, made by 3M. Aldara is a drug that is used to treat genital herpes, but is now being used to treat people who have common warts that don't respond well to more common treatments such as salicyclic acid and cryotherapy, or the warts keep coming back.Aldara is a white cream that you apply to the wart every other day (Or as much as your doctor tells you to). The most annoying thing about the creme is that once you put it on, you can't wash that area for 6-10 hours. Aldara can also have some annoying side-effects such as itching which I found to be the most annoying, it can irritate the skin, and one that's not listed though I feel was one was fever. I mysteriously developed a fever the day after I put it on, but that seems logical since it's an immunoreaction. The way Aldara works is by causing the immune system in your body to fight off the HPV virus. Since the virus dies, you'll no longer get warts! The bulk of the wart tissue can be taken out by salicyclic acid, or what I prefer better, cryotherapy. Aldara is a bit expensive though, especially if you don't have health insurance. The creme comes in small packets, and without insurance, a 12-Pack comes in at about $175. If you have prescription coverage, it should be much cheaper. If you're paying a small amount of money for the drugs because of your insurance deductibles, then it's well worth using it since it can save you money in the long run by getting rid of warts once and for all, since imiquimod is the only way to get to the SOURCE of the problem.

-Imiquimod + Salicyclic Acid Regimen-
*An effective way to treat warts is to use both drugs adjuvantly. One thing that my hinder the effectiveness of the Aldara is the dry and dead wart tissue that's on an untouched wart. However, if you use salicyclic acid to destroy that tissue and get into the "raw" tissue, the Aldara should be more effective. Some dermatologists recommend using salicyclic acid on top of Aldara to destroy tissue and virus at the same time. However, if bandages are used, this can horribly irritate the skin since it has to go a day or so at minimum without being exposed to water or anything. This also proves to be very annoying to do, and if the dressing comes off, you'll be fretting at trying to get everything back in order. Then another drawback is that the salicyclic acid can eat through healthy tissue. When you see it, it looks very scary, and can get painful.

-Imiquimod + Cryotherapy Regimen-
*Something that I think is effective is applying liquid nitrogen to all of the warts without using the imiquimod. This may successfully actually destroy one wart or a couple of the warts, or if it's a miracle, all of the warts. When the wart(s) reoccur, they are very small in size, and the tissue shouldn't be hard to penetrate when using the Aldara. The cryotherapy unlike the Salicyclic Acid should spare more healthy tissue. Cryotherapy is effective in causing mass shrinkage of the wart tissue. However, cryotherapy can be incredibly painful. It usually leaves people sore for a day or so.

-Imiquimod + Salicyclic Acid + Cryotherapy Regimen-
*I personally managed to pull this off. The Aldara can be first used adjuvantly with Salicyclic Acid to get good penetration into the wart tissue. Then after a certain time, cryotherapy can be performed to finally destroy the remaining tissue. By the point cryotherapy is done, the warts should be small in size and badly mauled from Salicyclic Acid. If the Aldara still needs to be used, small warts will reappear where the cryotherapy was done, and they can eventually grow back to large warts. However, the Aldara should again be able to take care of the rest of the immunoresponse. Then cryotherapy can be done again, and hopefully this is the end of your horrible wart ordeal. What's the major drawback to this? Cryotherapy is painful and gets expensive. It's not that expensive if you have medical insurance since cryotherapy will be charged as a normal doctor's visit, but it'll cost you more than using Salicyclic Acid alone.

-Another Option... Bleomycin-
*Another drug option that's not actually a prescription is Bleomycin. Bleomycin is a cytotoxic agent that's effective in destroying skin tissue. Bleomycin is commonly used in chemotherapy regimens against certain cancers. Bleomycin can only be administered by a health professional. What is done is the Bleomycin is injected directly into the wart, and it causes the skin under it to die off. This is supposed to keep the wart from coming back. There are a few drawbacks to Bleomycin though. Bleomycin is yet another approach to solely killing the wart tissue, it doesn't attack the HPV virus. Bleomycin is also incredibly painful, and there is no reason as to why Bleomycin should be used over cryotherapy since cryotherapy has minimal scarring and has the same effect at killing the wart tissue. Bleomycin is a very toxic agent and can't be used on children since it's cytotoxic. Also, why use Bleomycin over Aldara? Aldara will cause the immune system to kill the virus which can put an end to warts all-together.

-Another Option... Other Creams-
*Retinoid cream and cantharidin are also used to treat warts. However, they like Bleomycin, aren't very commonly used. Retinoid cream is supposed to stop the wart's cell growth, and is considered to be a fairly effective measure against warts. Retinoid cream is applied by yourself. Cantharidin is a cream applied by a health professional that causes the skin under the wart to blister. So when the blister dies off, the wart comes off the skin. However, the problems with these creams are undesirable side-effects that aren't as extreme as those with Aldara. Plus these creams fail to kill the HPV virus which Aldara is aimed at doing.

-In Conclusion-
*There's more medications to killing warts that you may think. If you have one or two warts, you might just want to try Salicyclic Acid since you can buy it over-the-counter, and you don't need to go to the doctor's office and fill prescriptions or anything. However, if you have multiple warts, then you should most likely skip out on solely using over-the-counter remedies. You should highly consider Imiquimod (Aldara) which is effective in the treatment of genital herpes, and also very effective in killing HPV virus which is the cause of common warts. Other medications are more painful and have more side-effects than immunotherapy. Bleomycin is downright insanely painful and toxic. These medications also fail to attack the virus. So if you want warts out of your life, hit them where it hurts most, the Human Papillomavirus.

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