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November 1988

Is Podophyllin a Safe Drug to Use and Can It Be Used During Pregnancy?

Author Affiliations

2927 Lawrence Ave E Scarborough, Ontario M1P 2T5, Canada

Arch Dermatol. 1988;124(11):1718-1720. doi:10.1001/archderm.1988.01670110074020

To the Editor.—  Podophyllin is a cytotoxic agent that has been used topically in the treatment of genital warts for over 30 years. It arrests mitosis in metaphase, an effect it shares with other cytoxic agents such as the vinca alkaloids (vincristine and vinblastine) and colchicine.1 The active agent is podophyllotoxin, whose concentration varies with the type of podophyllin used. Podophyllin concentrations between 10% and 50% are most frequently used, usually in a base of tincture of benzoin. Applications should be made directly to the warts, care being taken not to allow contact with surrounding unaffected mucosa or skin. The patient is usually instructed to wash off the application with soap and water after one hour, but longer contact times are allowed once individual sensitivity is established. In cases of extensive involvement, only a portion of the warts are treated at any one sitting so as to minimize the