Topical and Systemic Retinoids for the Treatment of Genital Warts: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Meital Oren-Shabtai*, Igor Snast, Moshe Lapidoth, Shany Sherman, Yehonatan Noyman, Daniel Mimouni, Emmilia Hodak, Assi Levi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Genital warts, caused by the human papillomavirus, are a common sexually transmitted disease. The warts can regress spontaneously or exhibit a persistent clinical course. Various therapeutic modalities are available, yet none is curative, and there may be recurrences. Retinoids are considered the mainstay of therapy in many dermatologic diseases. Data on their use for genital warts are limited. Objective: To systematically review the published evidence on the efficacy and safety of retinoids for the treatment of genital warts. Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis of all publications evaluating topical or systemic retinoids for the treatment of genital warts was performed. The primary outcome was complete response (CR); the secondary outcomes were recurrence rate and adverse events. Results: Six publications were evaluated, three randomized controlled trials and three prospective cohort studies, including a total of 141 patients with genital warts treated exclusively with retinoids (90% with isotretinoin). CR rates were 100% for systemic etretinate (3 out of 3 patients, 95% CI 28-81%) and 56% for isotretinoin (95% CI 28-81%; I2 = 84%). Topical etretinate did not induce CR. The most common side effect of topical agents was irritant contact dermatitis (36%) and that of systemic agents mucocutaneous disorders (80%). The relapse rate was 12% for oral isotretinoin and was unavailable for the other modalities. Conclusions: Current data suggest that unlike topical retinoids, systemic retinoids are an effective and safe treatment for genital warts. Further studies are required to determine their specific role and the most effective regimen for each derivative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-395
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Condylomas
  • Genital warts
  • Retinoids


Dive into the research topics of 'Topical and Systemic Retinoids for the Treatment of Genital Warts: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this