Squaric acid immunotherapy for warts in children

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000 May;42(5 Pt 1):803-8. doi: 10.1067/mjd.2000.103631.


Background: Warts are a common pediatric skin infection caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Spontaneous clearance of warts involves anti-HPV immunity, which may be enhanced by contact sensitizers. Squaric acid dibutylester (SADBE) is a nonmutagenic sensitizing agent useful for immunotherapy of alopecia areata.

Objective: We hypothesized that SADBE home application might be effective therapy for warts.

Methods: An open-label, retrospective study of 61 children with warts was performed. Sensitization with 2% SADBE on the forearm was followed with home application of 0.2% SADBE to warts 3 to 7 nights per week for at least 3 months.

Results: Complete clearing occurred in 34 patients (58%), with a mean duration of therapy of 7 weeks. Partial clearing occurred in 11 (18%), and no response in 14 (24%). Clearance correlated with plantar distribution, wart duration under 2 years (P <.05), and first-line therapy with SADBE. Mild side effects occurred in one third of patients, were limited most commonly to mild erythema at the site of sensitization, and necessitated discontinuation of therapy in only 2 patients.

Conclusion: SADBE topical immunotherapy is a safe, effective option for home therapy of warts in children.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / adverse effects
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cyclobutanes / adverse effects
  • Cyclobutanes / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Male
  • Papillomaviridae / immunology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / immunology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tumor Virus Infections / immunology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / therapy
  • Warts / therapy*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Cyclobutanes
  • squaric acid dibutyl ester