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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Trichloroacetic Acid or Bichloroacetic Acid for Genital Warts (Human Papillomavirus)
Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and
bichloroacetic acid (BCA) kill
genital warts by destroying the proteins in the cells.
TCA and BCA also can destroy normal cells, which is why careful application is
A doctor applies TCA or BCA once a week. It is important
that only the wart be treated to avoid irritation to surrounding normal
TCA and BCA may be used to treat
genital warts. They are considered safe during pregnancy, because they cause
only local reactions.
Studies show that TCA and BCA
treatment can remove warts in up to 80 out of 100 cases after 6 to 10 weeks of
treatment.1 TCA and BCA are most effective on small,
moist areas of warts.
TCA or BCA usually
causes several minutes of mild to moderate discomfort at the site where it is applied. The
medicines are not absorbed easily by the body. So both may cause local skin
irritation but not whole-body (systemic) side effects.
hard to control how deeply the acid penetrates the skin. If the acid burns
too deeply, you may have pain, skin irritation, and
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full
list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
If large areas of warts are being
removed and multiple treatments are needed, doctors may not recommend TCA and
BCA treatment because of the pain and burning.
Genital warts may
go away on their own. Treating warts may 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.
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.
June 21, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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