Research conducted at the Mayo Clinic confirmed that trichloracetic acid (TCA) for genital warts may be an effective treatment because it destroys the proteins in the cells. TCA can also destroy normal cells, which is why careful application is critical and should only be performed by a health care professional.
TCA is a clear, watery liquid that is painted on the genital warts. The warts will turn a whitish color, shrink and disappear. It will take weekly treatments of TCA for a number of weeks to get rid of genital warts. TCA is a caustic agent and must be applied sparingly to genital warts.
A health professional applies TCA to genital warts once a week. The application of TCA usually causes several minutes of mild to moderate discomfort at the site. The medication is not easily absorbed by the body, so while it can cause local skin irritation, it will not cause whole-body (systemic) side effects. Because it is difficult to control how deeply the acid penetrates the skin, it is possible that the irritation can result in ulcers.
Although it is not possible to "cure" genital warts, studies have shown TCA to be effective in relieving symptoms in 60% of the patients who choose this treatment.
In general, TCA and other chemical treatments are most effective in treating moist, soft, non-keratinized warts in the genital area. If large areas of genital warts need to be removed and a large number of treatments are needed, TCA for genital warts many not be appropriate because of the associated pain and burning. You and your physician can decide if this type of treatment will help relieve the symptoms of your genital warts.
If you are using TCA for genital warts, the most important thing you can do is to keep your appointments. Many patients stop going for TCA treatments when the genital warts begin to dry up. It is important to understand that multiple applications of TCA are required for genital warts.
The treatment is easier when genital warts are small and few in number. If you skip treatments, the warts could begin to spread, making treatment more difficult. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians a combination of therapies is usually used to treat genital warts.
Most physicians recommend a multi-faceted approach to the treatment of genital warts. While TCA is can be effective in treating genital warts, it is very often used in conjunction other therapies. Talk to your physician to determine if TCA is the appropriate treatment for you.
Glossary:Trichloracetic acid: a caustic agent that is used to treat genital warts. This medication can only be administered by a physician.
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