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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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
Treatment may be repeated as-needed if warts reappear.
Severe side effects usually result from improper use. When using Aldara, never:
Otherwise, most side effects are mild and not cause for concern unless persistent or severe:
If the medication produces blistering, ulcers, discharge, severe pain, or other symptoms of infection, stop use until speaking with a doctor.
No current Rx required
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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.