trichloroacetic acid?!
April 20, 2016 8:15 AM   Subscribe

I visited a gynecologist who told me I have HPV and wants to remove small warts with trichloroacetic acid. Does anyone have experience with this?

I am in a slight panic, because I am in a foreign country for the next few years and (although the healthcare system is very, very good) her English level wasn't the best so the explanation wasn't ideal. (Please note that I cannot visit a different doctor.) Using the Internet, I can't really figure out if this will cause scarring on the labia or any other negative side effects.

I was told there are a number of small warts on the inner labia. I had HPV before (was told it was a high-risk kind), and also received an HPV vaccine (after the diagnosis) five years ago so I am assuming that this is a fun relic from pre-vaccine?

In addition to experiences with this treatment, is there anything else I should know?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
I had warts on my foreskin removed this way. The skin where they were is very slightly lighter than the surrounding skin — the difference is slight enough that I've never had a partner comment on it, or even (I think) notice it — but there are no raised scars.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:18 AM on April 20, 2016

Consider asking the mods to add a throwaway email to your question. People may be willing to answer you privately but not publicly for the same reasons you chose to ask anonymously.
posted by headnsouth at 8:25 AM on April 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hey! MD here (but not yours clearly!) we do this all the time, it might scar a bit (and will sting for sure) but will keep the warts from getting bigger and more unsightly. they are not dangerous from a medical perspective, just embarrassing for most people. There is also definitely no rush so if you want to wait till you're home and can speak properly with your doctor that's fine.
FYI the wart-causing strains of HPV are not the same ones that cause cervical cancer so vaccine or no vaccine in the past isn't going to make a big difference.
posted by genmonster at 10:15 AM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]

I'm a certified nurse-midwife and nurse practitioner and I've removed tons of warts and mollusca (on patients) this way. It's a very simple and easy treatment that will usually cause some irritation to the skin area it's applied to.

Here's how it works from my side of the exam table:
- Ask patient to undress or uncover affected area
- Open bottle of TCA
- Gently dab/paint TCA along the base of the wart/lesion
- Let area dry for a minute or two
- Schedule patient for follow-up; repeat treatment if needed.

It is a cold liquid that is just barely dabbed onto the skin. It sometimes causes a very, very mild stinging but should be pretty much painless. It may cause some irritation and discoloration, but this will often fade with time. Some people do get a scar from where the wart fell off; it may be worse if you are someone who gets keloids. The warts will fall off at home.

With regards to your other questions: There are 100+ HPV strains. If you were told you had a high-risk kind, that was probably found on your pap smear. My guess would be that the HPV seen on your pap is different than the one causing the warts. The HPV vaccine was designed to prevent the strains that cause cancer, not the ones that cause warts.

In the meantime, if you're currently sexually active, you should avoid having sex until the warts have healed. I would also encourage you to talk to any partner(s) that you're with currently or recently. Feel free to memail me if you like.
posted by stillmoving at 10:17 AM on April 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

The HPV vaccine is actually supposed to prevent two strains of HPV that cause cancer and two other strains that cause warts.
posted by Lingasol at 10:26 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

In the Hospital Corps this was so minor we didn't even notify a Dr. that a patient had it. The only thing we did different than stillmoving was apply a small amount of Triple Antibiotic ointment around the wart to prevent any acid reaching the healthy skin.
posted by ridgerunner at 4:36 PM on April 20, 2016

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