Contact Sensitizers (Immunotherapy) for Warts

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Contact Sensitizers (Immunotherapy) for Warts


Generic Name
diphencyprone (DCP)
squaric acid dibutyl ester (SADBE)

How It Works

Contact sensitizers are a form of immunotherapy. Immunotherapy triggers your immune system to kill the virus causing the wart. This destroys the wart.

Two steps are required to trigger your body's immune system with a contact sensitizer:

  • The contact sensitizer is put on a small area of your arm or back. Your skin should become red, swollen, itchy, or blistered. This kind of skin reaction is a sign that the contact sensitizer will work. The next time the sensitizer is applied to your skin, your body's immune system will react to it, and the affected area will develop an allergic (immune) reaction.
  • After a few days, the same sensitizer is applied to the wart (diluted for common warts and concentrated for plantar warts). Repeat treatments with increasingly concentrated sensitizer are made every week or so until the immune reaction has cleared the wart.

Why It Is Used

Contact sensitizers are sometimes used to treat warts that have been resistant to other treatments.

How Well It Works

Talk to your doctor about how well his or her choice of contact sensitizers has worked in clinical practice.

Side Effects

A severe allergic reaction can occur with contact sensitizer treatment.

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

What To Think About

Contact sensitizers are not widely used because they are highly potent, expensive, and require careful handling to avoid causing unintentional allergic reactions.

Contact sensitizers are not safe for women who are pregnant, and they are used infrequently with children.

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


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Alexander H. Murray, MD, FRCPC - Dermatology
Last Revised December 2, 2010

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