Podophyllin Resin or Podofilox for Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus)


Generic Name Brand Name
podophyllin resin Podofin
podofilox Condylox

How It Works

Podophyllin resin and podofilox lotion or gel 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.

Podofilox lotion or gel

You can apply podofilox in lotion or gel at home. The usual schedule is twice a day for 3 days, followed by 4 days without any lotion. 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.

Podofilox lotion or gel

Podofilox lotion or gel 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 podofilox lotion or gel 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.

Podofilox lotion or gel

Podofilox lotion or gel 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).

Podofilox lotion or gel

Podofilox lotion or gel 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 podofilox lotion or gel can be applied at home, you need fewer visits to a doctor. This reduces the cost of treatment.

Neither podophyllin resin nor podofilox lotion or gel 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 (2005). Papillomaviruses. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1841–1856. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease
Last Revised June 28, 2010

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