We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Podophyllotoxin?

By Emma Lloyd
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Podophyllotoxin is a plant-based resinous extract used in the treatment of condylomata acuminate, or genital warts. This extract is obtained from the roots of a native North American plant called podophyllum peltatum, or the mayapple. Native American tribes once used this plant to treat parasitic infections and snake bites and as a laxative and purgative. Podophyllotoxin has been used to treat genital warts since the 1930s and is available internationally under brand names such as Wartec® and Condyline®.

Genital warts are a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). More than one hundred types of HPV are known to exist, more than 40 of which can infect the genital region. Two particular strains of the virus, called HPV6 and HPV11, are the most common causes of genital warts. During an active infection with the virus, warts can grow in the urogenital region of both men and women, on the anus, penis, scrotum, vulva, vagina and cervix.

Podophyllotoxin is an effective treatment for genital warts, because of its activity as an antimitotic. This means that it prevents virally infected wart cells from dividing. The wart virus requires actively growing cells in which to replicate, so by preventing growth of infected cells, the virus is destroyed. Eventually, this treatment causes the death of all virally infected cells and new growth of healthy uninfected cells.

Applying podophyllotoxin is not painful, but as infected cells begin to die off, some local skin irritation can be expected. This generally starts on the second or third day after treatment begins. It is common and normal to experience redness, itching, tenderness and pain at the site of treatment.

This medication also can cause some uncommon and potentially harmful side effects. These include bleeding or burning of the treated skin, headaches, dizziness and vomiting. Medical attention should be sought if any of these side effects occur or if local treatment effects continue to worsen for several days.

This toxin is not specific for infected cells, which means that it has the potential to harm healthy tissue. Because of this, podophyllotoxin should be used carefully and only as directed by the manufacturer or by a doctor. The hands and the infected area should be washed and dried prior to applying the medication, and the hands must be thoroughly washed afterwards. Care should be taken to ensure that the medication is not accidentally applied to healthy skin. This medication should not be used by pregnant or nursing women, because of its potentially harmful effects on a fetus or nursing baby.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.