Genital Warts Treatment: Interferon

Interferon is a relatively new treatment that your doctor may recommend for your genital warts. This treatment is only usually recommended after other treatments like alternative therapy, medicated ointment, and surgery fail to remove the warts or the warts recur. It is an antiviral agent that is injected into the wart, helping your body to clear it up.

Interferon is a protein that is naturally produced by our immune systems. It inhibits viruses from reproducing in our cells, thereby helping our body eradicate the virus. Synthetically produced interferon can work in the same way as the interferon we naturally produce. It's used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation as a treatment for many cancers, and it's also used to treat Hepatitis C patients. Interferon can also be used to help eradicate genital warts and lower the probability of recurrences.

To treat genital warts, interferon is normally injected into the skin at the base of the wart three times weekly for three weeks or twice weekly for eight weeks. Treatment occurs in your doctor's office or clinic.

Interferon may cause flu-like side effects such as fever, chills, muscle aches, hives, pain at the injection site, a decrease in white blood cells (which fight infection), and a decrease in platelets (which help blood to clot). When interferon is injected into a wart, side effects should be minimal, however if injected into a vein, interferon's side effects could be worse. It's not known if injecting interferon into a vein would effectively treat genital warts. Pregnant women should not receive interferon treatment because it may harm the fetus.

Interferon drugs on the market include Intron A (interferon alfa-2b) and Betaseron (interferon beta-1b).

It's important to remember that interferon treatment doesn't eradicate HPV, the cause of genital warts. It just manages the side effect of certain HPV strains, genital warts. Although interferon treatment may assist the body in halting the spread of HPV at the site of the wart where it's injected, the interferon injections will not eliminate the infection - the HPV will go dormant, not disappear. Therefore someone who is undergoing or has undergone interferon treatment may still pass the HPV virus on to others, who may then also develop genital warts.