Genital warts do not necessarily require treatment unless they cause pain or feelings of embarrassment. Many natural living websites suggest that various herbal remedies can cure genital warts. However, there is limited evidence for their use, and well-established medical treatments typically work well to treat warts.

Most genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). There is no cure for the HPV virus that causes genital warts. Even when the warts disappear, a person can still transmit the virus. Some remedies, including certain home remedies, may temporarily clear up genital warts.

Though HPV is associated with cervical and other cancers, genital warts do not cause cancer. Moreover, not all people with HPV develop genital warts.

This article discusses some home remedies that could help with genital warts. It also looks at how some lifestyle changes might affect this condition.

Learn more about HPV and other sexual health topics by visiting our dedicated hub.

As genital warts can return even after surgical removal, home remedies are most likely to be effective when used alongside standard medical treatments.

It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate alternative medicines. Anyone interested in these remedies should discuss them with a doctor first and always buy them from a reliable source.

The following home remedies may speed the healing of genital warts, but they will not cure the underlying virus.

Green tea extract

There is some evidence that prescription green tea extract containing sinecatechins and polyphenon E may help treat genital warts.

A 2015 study reviewed the use of a specific type of green tea extract called sinecatechins. These worked better than a placebo in clearing genital warts and were about as effective as standard topical medical remedies.

A 2018 case study found that a topical green tea extract, called polyphenon E, was an effective treatment for plantar warts. HPV also causes plantar warts.

It is important to note that the studies above used prescription topical treatments rather than over-the-counter (OTC) products. A person should consult their doctor if they wish to find out more about prescription treatments.

Tea tree oil

Advocates of traditional medicine have long used tea tree oil to treat a variety of skin conditions. Its antimicrobial properties may reduce the severity of some viruses, including those that cause warts.

Tea tree oil has not been well-studied for use on genital warts, but limited evidence suggests it might treat warts on other areas of the body.

One example is an older case study that detailed the successful use of tea tree oil in treating warts on a child’s hand. The authors suggested that the positive results might mean that tea tree oil can also treat warts caused by HPV.

A 2012 study reported that tea tree oil could help treat molluscum contagiosum, another type of viral skin condition.

As tea tree oil can burn the skin, people should consult a doctor before trying it.

Witch hazel

Like tea tree oil, witch hazel is a popular remedy for various skin issues. It is relatively mild, so it’s unlikely to irritate sensitive skin. However, a person should not use it on mucous membranes, including inside the vagina or anus.

A 2014 study found that witch hazel might be effective against HPV type 16, which is one of the strains of HPV that causes genital warts. However, this study is limited and was not conducted on humans.

Garlic

Garlic has been used throughout history and across cultures for cooking and medicinal purposes.

A 2018 study found that using 10% garlic extract for two months had a similar effect to cryotherapy on genital warts. Participants self-applied the garlic extract with a cotton tip two times per day for eight weeks. However, the study featured a small number of participants who were all male.

As HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), people with the virus should take steps to reduce the risk of passing the virus on. One option is by using condoms during sexual intercourse. However, HPV often affects areas not covered by a condom, so it can be easily transmitted even when using this form of contraception.

Some evidence suggests that dietary changes may improve symptoms of genital warts. According to a 2015 literature review, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, may halt the development of genital warts. These vegetables contain molecules the body metabolizes into chemicals that may attack HPV.

A handful of trials of juice and other edible forms of these vegetables suggest they may be effective against genital warts.

HPV is a serious virus linked to throat, cervical, and some other cancers. By knowing their HPV status, a person can help slow the spread of the virus. This can be potentially lifesaving.

Not all people with HPV develop genital warts, but many people with genital warts have HPV.

People who develop warts or other sores on or around their genitals should speak with a doctor. Proper diagnosis can ensure appropriate treatment. It is possible that something resembling genital warts is actually another condition, such as herpes or a bacterial infection. Only a doctor can tell for sure.

People with HIV and other diseases that harm the immune system may have more severe outbreaks of genital warts. They may also experience more difficulty clearing up outbreaks. People with genital warts should consider testing for other STIs.

Medical remedies for genital warts are usually effective. They can reduce both the appearance of warts and the length of each outbreak.

However, medication will not kill the underlying virus. The virus continues living in the body, so future outbreaks are possible.

One of two creams — podofilox or imiquimod — applied directly to the warts can be effective. A person will need to get a prescription from a doctor before using these medications and should not use them if they are pregnant.

A third cream, also available with a prescription, is sinecatechins. This is a green tea extract cream that is FDA-approved for genital warts. Other green tea formulations may be available over the counter.

A doctor may be able to freeze off the warts through a process called cryotherapy. Though this permanently removes existing warts, new ones may appear. Cryotherapy may require several treatments to work.

Surgical removal is also possible, and doctors usually perform it while a patient is under local anesthesia. Surgery removes warts in a single treatment session.

A doctor can also apply one of two topical treatments to speed the removal of the warts. Due to the strength of these treatments, they can only be applied in a doctor’s office. It may take several treatments for the warts to disappear.

Some experimental treatments, including treatment with the drug interferon, may help people for whom other treatments do not work.

Genital warts sometimes clear up without treatment. However, it is essential to distinguish between the warts and the infection that causes them.

HPV is a lifelong condition. Even when genital warts disappear — whether due to treatment or natural processes — a person will still have HPV. This means they can develop genital warts again and may pass on the virus to sexual partners.

People who have genital warts should speak with their doctor about ways to help prevent spreading the virus. It is important for people to tell any sexual partners about their HPV status.

A person should also speak to a doctor before trying any of the above home remedies for genital warts.