13.7 Preparations for warts and calluses

NHS England (NHSE) has published new prescribing guidance for various common conditions for which over the counter (OTC) items should not be routinely prescribed in primary care (quick reference guide). These conditions include warts and verrucae.

Many products for warts and verrucae are cheap to buy and are readily available OTC along with advice from pharmacies. Some self-care medicines are available from shops and supermarkets. Please click here for further information, exceptions, and a patient leaflet.

Salicylic acid / Lactic Acid
  • Paint (salicylic acid 16.7%, lactic acid 16.7%) (£1.71 = 10ml)
  • Gel (salicylic acid 11%, lactic acid 4%) (£2.88 = 5g)
  • Cream 5% (£48.60 = 12 sachets)

Indications and dose

  • Actinic keratosis - Treatment of mild to moderate field changes of the face and scalp in adults:
    • Apply to lesions 3 times a week at night for 4 weeks; assess response after a 4 week treatment-free interval; repeat 4-week course if lesions persist; maximum 2 courses
  • Warts (external genital and perianal) (specialist input):
    • Apply thinly 3 times a week at night until lesions resolve (maximum 16 weeks)


  1. Manufacturer advises cream should be rubbed in and allowed to stay on the treated area for 6–10 hours for warts or for 8 hours for basal cell carcinoma and actinic keratosis, then washed off with mild soap and water (uncircumcised males treating warts under foreskin should wash the area daily). The cream should be washed off before sexual contact.
  2. The routine commissioning of imiquimod 3.75% (Zyclara) is not accepted in Devon for the treatment of actinic keratosis (see Commissioning Policy for more details)
  • Cream 0.15% (£17.83 = 5g)
  • Solution 0.5% (£14.49 = 3.5ml)

Indications and dose

  • Genital warts affecting the penis or the female external genitalia:
    • Apply twice daily for 3 consecutive days; treatment may be repeated at weekly intervals if necessary for a total of four 3-day treatment courses


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