Aldara

imiquimod cream

By 3M Pharmaceuticals

What is this medication for?

Imiquimod cream works by changing the body's immune system response. Imiquimod cream is used to treat external genital and perianal warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) in adults 12 years of age and older. The external genital area includes skin surfaces outside the vagina or penis. The perianal area includes skin surfaces surrounding the opening (anus) through which fecal matter is passed.

Imiquimod cream is also used to treat actinic keratosis (AK) on the face or balding scalp in adults. AK is a skin condition that could turn into skin cancer (symptoms include rough, red, scaly patches or lesions, or crusts) that is caused by chronic sun exposure. Imiquimod is also used to treat primary superficial basal cell carcinoma (sBCC), a type of skin cancer, under certain conditions.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you are not sure why you are using this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Aldara® is available as:

  • cream
    • 5%
Some medications may have other generic brands available. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist about the safety of switching between brands of the same medication.

How should I use this medication?

Imiquimod cream is to only be used on the skin affected and for the amount of time specified by your doctor. It is not to be used in the mouth or near the eyes, lips, and nostrils. If imiquimod cream gets in the eyes, rinse with water right away. Do not apply an occlusive dressing (made of airtight material) over this medication. Be sure to wash your hands before and after applying imiquimod cream.

External genital and perianal warts: Apply imiquimod cream to the affected skin area 3 times a week just before going to bed. (Examples of a 3-times-a-week schedule include Monday/Wednesday/Friday and Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday.) Apply a thin layer of this medication onto the clean, dry, wart area and rub gently into the skin until the cream vanishes. Be careful not to get imiquimod cream in the anus or vagina. Leave the medication on the skin area for 6 to 10 hours, and then remove it by washing the treated area with mild soap and water. Continue to use this medication until the warts have completely cleared, but do not use it for longer than 16 weeks.

Actinic keratosis (AK): Apply imiquimod cream to the affected skin area 2 times a week, 3 to 4 days apart, just before going to bed. (Examples of a 2-times-a-week schedule include Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday.) Apply a thin layer of this medication onto the clean, dry, actinic keratosis lesion and rub gently into the skin until the cream vanishes. The area you are treating with imiquimod cream should not be larger than the size of your forehead or one cheek. Leave the medication on the skin area for approximately 8 hours, and then remove it by washing the treated area with mild soap and water. Continue to use this medication for a total of 16 weeks, or as directed by your doctor. A rest period from medication for several days may be taken depending on your discomfort and severity of skin reactions as directed by your doctor.

Superficial basal cell carcinoma (sBCC): Before applying the cream, gently wash the treatment area with mild soap and water and allow the skin to dry thoroughly. Then apply the cream to the affected area 5 times per week (for example, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday) prior to normal sleeping hours. The cream should be removed with soap and water in approximately 8 hours. Ensure that the cream covers the entire area and at least one centimeter beyond the edges of the tumor. Apply with a light touch and gently rub into the skin until the cream vanishes. The amount of cream to be applied depends on the width of the tumor. Ask your pharmacist or physician how much to apply. Treatment usually continues for 6 weeks. You should expect some skin irritation, but contact your physician if symptoms affect your ability to perform daily tasks.

Use a new packet for each application. Throw away the remainder of an opened packet each time.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are applying the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important that this medication be applied exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Imiquimod cream works by changing the body's immune system response. Imiquimod cream is used to treat external genital and perianal warts caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) in adults 12 years of age and older. The external genital area includes skin surfaces outside the vagina or penis. The perianal area includes skin surfaces surrounding the opening (anus) through which fecal matter is passed.

Imiquimod cream is also used to treat actinic keratosis (AK) on the face or balding scalp in adults. AK is a skin condition that could turn into skin cancer (symptoms include rough, red, scaly patches or lesions, or crusts) that is caused by chronic sun exposure. Imiquimod is also used to treat primary superficial basal cell carcinoma (sBCC), a type of skin cancer, under certain conditions.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you are not sure why you are using this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

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The contents of this health site are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition.

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