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Aldara (imiquimod) is a type of immune response modifier, which, when applied to the skin, simulates the immune system to destroy abnormal cells in the area. It is typically used to treat unwanted or dangerous growths on the skin, ranging from genital warts to certain types of skin cancer. Most frequently it is used to treat:

  • Actinic keratosis
  • Superficial basal cell carcinoma
  • External genital warts

The active ingredient in Aldara, imiquimod, is contained in a cream which is applied topically to affected areas. The product Zyclara also contains imiquimod in a cream, but the two products contain different dosage strengths of the ingredient:

  • Aldara contains 5% cream, which means each gram of cream contains 50 mg imiquimod;
  • Zyclara is available in 2.5% or 3.75% cream, meaning each gram contains 25 mg or 37.5 mg respectively.

Both products are available in single-use packets or in metered-dose pumps.

Treating Actinic Keratosis

Aldara may be used as alternative to cryosurgery (freezing of tissue) or may be used following the procedure to ensure abnormal cells not visible to the naked eye are also destroyed. Treatment is similar in both cases:

  • Apply at bedtime and leave on for at least 8 hours.
  • Gently rub cream into affected areas until it disappears.
  • Repeat treatment every 3 days for 6 to 12 weeks.

Ideally abnormal cells will be replaced with healthy skin cells. Regular doctor checkups are encouraged to monitor progress and watch for developing adverse effects.

Treating Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma

Superficial basal cell carcinoma is a very common type of skin cancer. Surgical removal is highly successful and very often the preferred treatment; Aldara is typically utilized when surgery is inadvisable for some reason or when the cancer is in very early stages. Again treatment is similar in both cases:

  • Apply at bedtime and leave on for at least 8 hours.
  • Gently rub cream over the affected area, extending to skin about 12 mm (0.5 inches) around the tumor.
  • Repeat treatment 5 times a week for 6 weeks, or as instructed by a physician.

Aldara is not effective on tumors which extend past the upper layer of skin; it is very important to have the condition examined and diagnosed prior to starting treatment to ensure it is, in fact, the most beneficial course of action.

Treating Genital Warts

Aldara is not a cure for genital warts; it will not permanently prevent the development of new warts or prevent transmission of the virus to others. What it will do is destroy existing warts, usually within 3 to 4 months of starting treatment, and very often prevents new warts from developing for several additional months.

  • Apply at bedtime and leave on for at least 6 to 10 hours.
  • Apply cream to the affected area; preferably only on warts, but a small amount on skin around the warts is not a big concern.
  • Repeat treatment 3 days a week for up to 16 weeks; it may be stopped sooner if warts disappear.
  • Do not engage in intercourse while medication is applied.

Treatment may be repeated as-needed if warts reappear.

Side Effects

Severe side effects usually result from improper use. When using Aldara, never:

  • Cover treated area with airtight dressings or clothing--skin should be able to breathe;
  • Apply internally or to mucous membranes--inside the mouth, nose, eyes, vagina, opening of the penis, or rectum;
  • Apply to open wounds or infected skin.

Otherwise, most side effects are mild and not cause for concern unless persistent or severe:

  • Scabbing, flaking or scaling or skin at application site
  • Mild burning, itching or tingling at application site
  • Flu-like symptoms, including mild fever and headaches

If the medication produces blistering, ulcers, discharge, severe pain, or other symptoms of infection, stop use until speaking with a doctor.


250mg - 5% cream imiquimod  Buy Aldara 12 Pack - $157.66
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Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.

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