How Effective Is Bleomycin for Warts?

Mary McMahon

Bleomycin for warts can clear over two thirds of cases in patients with severe warts that resist other treatments. A 2006 study at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit suggests that, when precisely administered, it may be a highly effective treatment. Patients considering this option for managing refractory warts can discuss the risks and benefits with their care providers to determine if it is a good choice for them.

Bleomycin can be effective for removing warts that would not respond to other treatments.
Bleomycin can be effective for removing warts that would not respond to other treatments.

This medication is an antineoplastic drug originally used in the treatment of cancers. It prevents cell division, and can stop warts from getting bigger when injected directly into the growth. One advantage of bleomycin for warts is that it isn’t absorbed into the body, and thus patients avoid most of the side effects associated with the drug. They may notice some itching and burning around the site of the wart, which will scab over and fall off after the injection.

A dermatologist might use liquid nitrogen to remove a wart.
A dermatologist might use liquid nitrogen to remove a wart.

Sometimes multiple injections are required to completely remove a wart. Proper injection technique can also be important when using bleomycin for warts, as the medication needs to be precisely delivered. It tends to be more effective than cryotherapy, where extreme cold is used to burn warts off. Some studies delivered success rates of over 90% with experienced practitioners. If warts have resisted other therapies, this can be a good option.

Negative interactions with vaccines can occur when a patient takes bleomycin for warts. It is advisable to allow some time to elapse between vaccination and taking this medication, or vice versa. The medication also poses risks to developing fetuses, although because the patient’s body doesn’t absorb it, this is less of a concern than it is in cancer therapy. Patients with worries about the potential for bad reactions can discuss them to determine their risk level and whether it would be advisable to wait on taking bleomycin for warts.

Other options are usually considered first because they are less invasive and may pose fewer risks to the patient. Although bleomycin is a cancer medication, warts are not cancerous, which is something patients should be aware of if they are concerned about taking a chemotherapy medication; it is recommended because it’s good at preventing cell division, not because of worries about malignancy. If a doctor is concerned that a skin growth might be malignant, a biopsy can be taken to determine its nature. This can dictate the most appropriate course of treatment.

Warts on a hand.
Warts on a hand.

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Discussion Comments

serenesurface

@ddljohn-- Bleomycin is very effective, but it might require multiple injections. It took five injection for my plantar wart to go away. But I had tried every other remedy out there so I was willing to have twenty injections if necessary.

If your warts are not responding to other treatments, I would definitely give bleomycin a try. But you should probably get more than one injection if the warts are stubborn.

The good thing is that bleomycin doesn't have side effects and it doesn't cause scarring.

stoneMason

@ddljohn-- Bleomycin did not remove my wart, but it did prevent it from getting bigger. It's not painful if you numb the skin first, but otherwise it is painful because a needle is being inserted. I have no idea if a one time treatment will work for you, it depends on the type of wart.

ddljohn

I have three very stubborn warts on my hand. I had liquid nitrogen treatment a few weeks ago and it didn't work. The warts blistered and scabbed over but never fell off. My doctor asked me to get more liquid nitrogen treatments, but I don't want any more because it hasn't worked and it's very painful.

What's the rate of success with bleomycin? Will a one time injection get rid of them? Is it painful?

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