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Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol)

Glutarol is a liquid medication containing the active ingredient glutaraldehyde. This substance is used primarily as a wart paint and a verruca treatment. Glutaraldehyde kills bacteria and viruses on the skin so that warts and other issues have a chance to heal.

What is glutaraldehyde?

Glutaraldehyde is a wart and verruca medication often sold under the brand names Glutarol and Cidex. Glutaraldehyde is a disinfectant as well as a medication and a preservative. As a disinfectant, it can sterilize surgical equipment. As a medication, it treats the warts that appear on the bottom of the feet.

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution works by killing the bacteria, viruses and other dangerous substances that cause warts and verrucas to appear on the skin.

When applied to the skin, this substance will harden the upper layer of epidermis, often making it tough and whitening the flesh. This might seem strange at first, but the glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution medication is actually helping to kill the wart, so that it can simply wear away like any dead skin over time. The hardening of the skin that is caused when you apply glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) also means that it is less likely that the virus causing the infection will spread on the skin or infect other people.

The new skin will continue to grow underneath the verruca or wart. This new skin should be free from any presence of the previous virus.

Although glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) can work quite quickly, it sometimes takes a while for the wart or verruca to disappear altogether. If several weeks pass and you do not see any difference, then you may need to speak to your doctor about using a different form of treatment.

When is glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) used?

The active ingredient in Glutarol, glutaraldehyde, can be used for a wide variety of reasons in the medical world. It is often used in the surgical environment as a disinfectant, to keep equipment sterilized and clean. Additionally, it can be used as a preservative and fixative. Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is medication available in liquid form that can be applied to the bottoms of the feet where verrucas and warts form. It can be sold under a range of brand names.

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution works in a number of different ways. Usually, when it comes into contact with the skin, it will kill the virus or fungal spores that are causing the verruca or wart to grow. Usually it is only given in small amounts, because only a very limited percentage of the active ingredient is needed to kill the virus causing the wart.

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is commonly used for the treatment of warts caused by the papilloma virus. These warts can be unattractive and painful, and often occur more in children. It will dry out the wart and prevent new infections or existing infections from spreading. It is very effective against a range of microorganisms and spores, but in large quantities it could be overly effective and therefore cause a higher risk of side effects.

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is not suitable for the use of genital warts, water warts or moles. Your consultant will tell you whether this medication is appropriate for you.

How do you use glutaraldehyde (Glutarol)?

Whenever you are prescribed a new medication by a doctor or a consultant, it is important to follow the instructions that they provide for treatment exactly. Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution can be more likely to cause dangerous side effects if it is used in heavier doses than intended. Additionally, it is important to make sure that you only get the liquid of this medication on the area to be treated, as it will dry out other areas of healthy skin.

Before using glutaraldehyde (Glutarol), make sure that you read through the instructions provided on the patient leaflet carefully. You can speak to an expert if you have any concerns or questions. Once you have read through the leaflet, wash your hands and the area of skin to be treated before applying the medication.

Soak your foot and the wart in hot soapy water for a period of two or three minutes to help loosen the hard skin around the wart or verruca. You can rub any of the loose skin around the area away with a pumice stone if necessary. Once your skin is dry, use the applicator provided with this liquid to apply two light layers of the medication. Give the first layer time to dry before you start applying the second. Try to avoid letting the liquid spread to other parts of skin as much as possible.

Do not apply this medication onto any broken or inflamed skin, and avoid getting it into your eyes, or on the eyelids. Do not apply this medication to any area around your face or genitals. Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is only suitable for treating verrucas and warts. After you have finished the application, leave the liquid to dry before you stand up or apply any socks or shoes to the foot.

Make sure that no-one else in your household uses the towel or pumice stone that you used when you were treating your wart, as warts and verrucas are contagious. If any glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution comes into contact with healthy skin, wash it away as thoroughly as possible with water.

What dosages are there?

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is provided in a single bottle of liquid. Your consultant will tell you how much of this medication you should use, and how long you should be using the treatment for. It is important not to use more or less of this medication than you are told to by your consultant. If you do not apply enough of the medication, then you have a higher chance of the virus or infection continuing to spread.

On the other hand, if you apply glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution too heavily, the skin could peel away too quickly and leave you with a sore patch of skin at the bottom of your foot. The most common dosage for glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is two coats applied to your wart or verruca twice per day. Your consultant will tell you if you need to use a different dose to this.

Speak to a doctor if after several weeks you do not notice any change to your verruca despite applying the dose correctly each day.

What are the side effects of glutaraldehyde (Glutarol)?

As with all medications, glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution can sometimes come with side effects. Although you will not necessarily experience any side effects when using this medication, it is helpful to know what the outcome of using this substance can be. That way, you will be better prepared to deal with symptoms if they do happen.

The following side effects are known to be occasionally associated with this Glutarol solution. However, just because a side effect is listed here does not mean that you will experience it. Additionally, it is worth noting that glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution could cause side effects that are not listed here too.

Common side effects include:

  • Irritation or skin rashes;
  • Brown staining or discoloration of the skin;
  • Vapour irritation of the eyes and airways;
  • Eye discomfort caused by the vapour;
  • Discomfort and difficulty swallowing caused by the vapour.

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution may cause some brief irritation around the wart or verruca after it is first applied. This issue should diminish naturally by itself.

A severe allergic reaction to glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is rare. However, you should make sure that you are aware of any symptoms of an allergic reaction, including rash or swelling around the application area, difficulty breathing, or problems with swelling around your mouth or throat.

When should you not use glutaraldehyde (Glutarol)?

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is a common treatment for verrucas and warts for many people. Most patients respond well to this medication and do not have any dangerous side effects. However, you should respond accurately to all of the questions that your consultant asks you to ensure that this treatment is right for you.

Not everyone will be suitable to take glutaraldehyde (Glutarol). This medicine is not suitable for use around the anal, genital or facial areas. It cannot be used anywhere around the eyes or mouth and should not be used on moles or skin lesions. Do not use glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution on broken skin and avoid using this medication if you have poor circulation in your hands and feet.

It is important to make sure that your consultant is aware of any allergies that you may have before you begin taking this medication. That includes allergies that you have to the active ingredients of glutaraldehyde (Glutarol), and the non-active ingredients.

Certain medication should not necessarily be used during periods of breastfeeding or pregnancy. It is not certain whether it is safe to use glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution during pregnancy or breastfeeding. You will need to seek advice from your consultant or doctor to ensure that this is safe for you to use.

Does glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution interact with other medications?

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution and other medications can sometimes interact with other medications. It is important to check that glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is not dangerous to take with any medications that you are already using before you begin taking it. Remember to tell your doctor about any herbal treatments, supplements or over-the-counter pills that you are taking. Do not apply any moisturizers or other substances too soon after applying glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) as this could dilute the substance.

Where can you buy glutaraldehyde (Glutarol)?

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution is available to purchase with a prescription both online and offline. You can complete a consultation with us to get a prescription sent to a local pharmacy within three days.

Can I get glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution without a prescription?

Glutaraldehyde (Glutarol) solution treatments require a prescription and a consultation from a professional to ensure that the treatment is safe.

Sources:, 2019, online, “Glutarol 10% w/v Cutaneous Solution” [Accessed 18 December 2019], Available on:

MIMS, online, 2019, “Glutarol”, [Accessed 18 December 2019], Available on: molluscum-contagiosum/glutarol

Patient Leaflet(s)

Reviewed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner Registrationnumber: GMC: 4741365 Last checked: 03-02-2023 | Still valid

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