Podophyllin Resin or Podophyllotoxin for Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus)

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Podophyllin Resin or Podophyllotoxin for Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus)


Generic NameBrand Name
podophyllin resinPodofilm
podophyllotoxin liquidCondyline

How It Works

Podophyllin resin and podophyllotoxin remove genital warts by stopping cell growth.

Podophyllin resin

A doctor applies podophyllin resin to the warts. He or she also may use petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to protect normal tissue near the warts from irritation. You wash the resin off in 1 to 4 hours to reduce side effects.1 Your doctor usually applies the resin once a week for at least 6 weeks or until warts disappear.


You can apply podophyllotoxin at home. The usual schedule is twice a day for 3 days, followed by 4 days without any medicine. You repeat this schedule for up to 4 weeks.1

Why It Is Used

Podophyllin resin

Podophyllin resin can remove genital warts. It appears to be more effective on moist skin than on dry.


Podophyllotoxin has been found to be effective in clearing warts. It has mild side effects and is well-suited for treatment at home.

Neither podophyllin resin nor podophyllotoxin is used during pregnancy, because these medicines can be harmful to the fetus.

How Well It Works

Podophyllin resin

Podophyllin resin may remove warts in 20 to 40 out of 100 people.3 But warts may return after treatment.


Podophyllotoxin may remove warts in 45 to 58 out of 100 people.3 But warts may return after treatment.

Side Effects

Podophyllin resin

The most common side effects near the application site are skin reactions, including:2

  • Burning.
  • Redness.
  • Pain.
  • Itching.
  • Swelling.

Complications from podophyllin resin application are rare. Complications are more likely when podophyllin resin is:

  • Applied to large areas.
  • Applied to areas that are already swollen and irritated.
  • Left on longer than 12 hours so that more of the medicine is absorbed into the body (systemic toxicity).


Podophyllotoxin has milder side effects at the application area than podophyllin resin.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Podophyllin resin must be applied by a doctor so that the amount used can be carefully monitored to avoid more serious side effects.

Because podophyllotoxin can be applied at home, you need fewer visits to a doctor. This reduces the cost of treatment.

Neither podophyllin resin nor podophyllotoxin is used during pregnancy, because these medicines can harm the fetus.

Genital warts may go away on their own. Also, treating genital warts does not cure infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes genital warts. The virus may remain in the body in an inactive state after warts are removed. A person treated for genital warts may still be able to spread the infection. Condoms may help reduce the risk of HPV infection.

The benefits and effectiveness of each type of treatment need to be compared with the side effects and cost. Discuss this with your doctor.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2006). Genital warts. In Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2006. Available online: http://www.cdc.gov/STD/treatment/.
  2. Buck HW Jr (2007). Warts (genital), search date February 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.
  3. Bonnez W, Reichman RC (2010). Papillomaviruses. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2035–2049. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease
Last Revised August 27, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.