Management of cutaneous human papillomavirus infection: pharmacotherapies

Curr Probl Dermatol. 2014;45:175-85. doi: 10.1159/000356069. Epub 2014 Mar 13.


A plethora of different treatment modalities for treating human papillomavirus (HPV) are available, offering a range of efficacies and balancing several patient needs. Here we discuss pharmacotherapies for HPV, focusing in particular on the mechanism of action and treatment efficacy. Immunomodulators such as Candida antigen, imiquimod and squaric acid stimulate cell-mediated immunity and induce production of antiviral cytokines. Proapoptotic and antiviral treatments such as podophyllin resin, podophyllotoxin gel, bleomycin, 5-fluorouracil, cidofovir and interferon α interfere with the viral reproduction cycle. Other therapies include trichloroacetic acid, acitretin, cantharidin and sinecatechins, some of which operate by epidermal destruction, effects on cellular proliferation and other mechanisms of which are poorly understood. Overall, given the high HPV recurrence rates, adjunctive use of antiviral agents should be considered in treatment, especially when managing severe or complicated presentations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, Fungal / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Keratolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Skin Diseases, Viral / drug therapy*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Antigens, Fungal
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Keratolytic Agents