Cantharidin is a toxic chemical compound that in nature is secreted by many species of blister beetle including the Spanish fly. In diluted form, it can be an effective way of removing warts and is also known as the beetle juice wart treatment. Not all warts need to be treated as many will fade of their own accord, but patients want them off their body because they are embarrassing, can sometimes be painful, and are easily irritated.
Cantharidin Advantage in Wart Removal
The goal of any wart removal treatment is to destroy the troublesome growth without causing scarring. The advantage of using the cantharidin treatment is that it doesn’t leave behind any scar tissue. Treatment involves a doctor painting the compound over the wart and then covering the area with a bandage, which is worn for 24 hours. A blister forms and when it dries the wart comes off with the skin. The procedure is painless, although the cantharidin blister may be painful for several hours.
Cantharidin is sometimes used if other treatments such as salicylic acid or cryotherapy have been unsuccessful, and it should never be applied on moles, birthmarks, warts with hair growing from them nor the genital area.
Cantharidin Success in Removing Warts
A significant body of scientific research exists that testify to the compound’s effectiveness. One famous study observed that in 33% of patients periungual warts disappeared completely after just one treatment. Few test subjects required more than three treatments and a cure was achieved in about 70% of cases (Epstein J, Epstein W. Cantharidin treatment of digital and periungual warts. Calif Med 1960; 93 (1): 11-12).
In a more recent research paper, published in April 2009 in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment scientists concluded that cantharidin is a safe and effective treatment when applied to recalcitrant facial flat warts. Fifteen patients took part in the study and therapy was performed for 4-6 hours every three weeks. After sixteen weeks warts had been eradicated from every single patient (Durmazlar S, et al. Cantharidin treatment for recalcitrant facial flat warts: A preliminary study. Journal of Dermatological Treatment 2009; 20 (2): 114-119).
Though the effectiveness of cantharidin as wart removal treatment has been observed in peer-reviewed scientific papers, the toxic compound from the blister beetle has not yet been approved for the treatment of warts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Common misspellings include: cantharidine