Background: A traditional method for the treatment of warts in some rural areas of Iran comprises the use of fig tree (ficus carica) latex as a local treatment; however, there is no scientific evaluation of its efficacy.
Methods: A prospective, open right/left comparative trial of fig tree latex therapy vs. local standard of cryotherapy was carried out. Twenty-five patients with common warts were recruited into the study from an outpatient clinic. The patients were instructed in self-application of fig tree latex to warts on one side of the body. The wart on the opposite side was treated using standard cryotherapy. A 6-month follow-up study was planned.
Results: In 11 (44%) of the 25 patients complete resolution of fig tree latex-treated warts was observed. The remaining 14 patients (56%) had a complete cure following cryotherapy. Two patients had complete remission on both sides. Two patients failed to respond to either cryotherapy or fig tree latex. It was found that fig tree latex therapy was marginally less effective than cryotherapy. Adverse effects were observed only in cryo-treated warts. At the 6-month follow-up study there was an 18% recurrence rate.
Conclusion: Fig tree latex therapy of warts offers several beneficial effects including short-duration therapy, no reports of any side-effects, ease-of-use, patient compliance, and a low recurrence rate. The exact mechanism of the antiwart activity of fig tree latex is unclear but is likely to be the result of the proteolytic activity of the latex enzymes.