Cantharidin – Wart treatment

What is cantharidin?

Cantharidin is a liquid agent used to treat various skin conditions such as  viral warts and molluscum contagiosum. Cantharidin was derived from the secretions of a male blister beetle. The males give these secretions to the females to lay over their eggs to protect against predators.

How does cantharidin work?

Warts invade and grow in the epidermal layer of the skin. Cantharidin is absorbed by the lipid membrane of the epidermal cells which causes a blister to form. The blister lifts the wart of the skin. Cantharidin action does not go past the epidermis and leaves the basement membrane intact which leaves no scarring.

How effective is cantharidin?

Various sources have a cure rate of 81-100% with cantharidin use. 

What are the negatives of cantharidin?

Cantharidin is very painful due to the mechanism of action of the medication which causes blistering. With this blistering effect there is a low risk of developing a skin infection and like many other wart treatments the cantharidin may have to be applied multiple times.