Imiquimod cream is indicated for the treatment of specific types of actinic keratoses, which are characterized by flat, scaly growths on the skin resulting from excessive sun exposure. It is also employed in the management of superficial basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer that appears on the trunk, neck, arms, hands, legs, or feet. Imiquimod cream is additionally used to treat warts on the skin located in the genital and anal regions. As an immune response modifier, imiquimod increases the activity of the body’s immune system to treat genital and anal warts.
Uses and Dosage
Imiquimod is available in the form of cream to be topically applied to the skin.
The application of imiquimod cream to treat actinic keratoses usually requires once-daily use for two days a week, spaced three to four days apart. The cream should not be applied to an area larger than two inches by two inches, corresponding to the forehead or cheek. Leave the cream on the skin for around eight hours and continue using it for 16 weeks, even if the actinic keratoses disappear, unless advised otherwise by your doctor.
To treat superficial basal cell carcinoma, imiquimod cream is typically applied once daily for five days a week. The cream should be applied to the basal cell carcinoma and the surrounding area, and left on the skin for approximately eight hours. Treatment should continue for six weeks, even if the superficial basal cell carcinoma appears to have resolved, unless instructed otherwise by your doctor.
In the case of genital and anal warts, imiquimod cream is usually applied once a day for three days a week. The cream should be left on the skin for six to ten hours, and the treatment should be continued until all the warts are healed, for a maximum of 16 weeks.
Follow the prescription label instructions carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to clarify any information that you may not understand. Imiquimod should be used exactly as directed, without exceeding the prescribed dosage or frequency.
Unless directed otherwise by your doctor, avoid covering the treated area with a tight bandage or dressing. You may use cotton gauze dressings if required, and wear cotton underwear after treating the genital or anal areas.
If you are using imiquimod cream to treat genital or anal warts, refrain from sexual contact while the cream is on your skin, as it may weaken condoms and vaginal diaphragms. Men who are uncircumcised and are treating warts under the penis foreskin should clean the area daily and before each treatment.
Imiquimod cream is intended solely for use on the skin and should not be applied in or near the eyes, lips, nostrils, vagina, or anus. In case of accidental exposure to these areas, rinse well with water immediately.
Imiquimod cream comes in single-use packets, and any open packets should be discarded if not all the cream is used.
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention:
- mild burning or stinging of the skin
- flaking of the skin
- mild headache
- pain, soreness, or tenderness of the skin
- redness of the skin
- swelling at place of application
Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any serious side effects:
- blisters on the skin
- body aches or pain
- difficulty with breathing
- ear congestion
- itching in the genital or other skin areas
- loss of voice
- open sores or scabs on the skin
- pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
- redness of the skin (severe)
- shortness of breath or troubled breathing
- skin rash
- sore throat
- stuffy or runny nose
- tightness of the chest or wheezing
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Prior to using imiquimod, inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergies to it or to any of its inactive components, as they may trigger allergic reactions or other complications.
Before taking this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist about your medical history, especially if you have recently undergone unhealed surgery in the skin area to be treated, immune system deficiencies (including HIV infection), a specific bone marrow or organ transplant complication (chronic graft-versus-host disease), or autoimmune diseases.
This medication may increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Limit your exposure to the sun, avoid tanning beds and lamps, and use sunscreen and protective clothing while outdoors. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop sunburn or skin blisters/redness.
Genital and anal warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). As imiquimod does not eliminate the virus, but only assists in removing the wart, new warts may appear during treatment. You may infect your sexual partner(s) with the areas of skin affected by HPV.
To minimize the risk of HPV transmission, always use reliable barrier protections (such as latex or polyurethane condoms, dental dams) during sexual activity.
During the treatment of genital or anal warts, refrain from any sexual activity while the cream is on the skin. Condoms, dental dams, and diaphragms may be weakened by the cream, reducing their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy, HPV, or HIV transmission.
During pregnancy, only use this medication when it is absolutely necessary. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
It is not known whether this medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
Form and Strength
Aldara Cream is available in the following forms and strengths:
Aldara Cream cream:
imiquimod topical cream:
How quickly does Aldara Cream work for warts?
It usually takes 8-10 weeks for your warts to disappear, but warts may clear as early as 4 weeks.
How do I know Aldara is working?
As the skin starts to heal, you will see scabs and flaking. These reactions indicate that the medicine is working.