If you have actinic keratosis, external genital warts or perianal warts, or superficial basal cell carcinoma, your healthcare provider may recommend Aldara. This skin cream is available by prescription only and is applied two to five times a week, depending on the particular reason you are using it. Side effects include redness, swelling, or oozing of the skin.
What Is Aldara?Aldara® (imiquimod cream) is a prescription medication approved to treat the following conditions:
- Actinic keratosis (dry, scaly, precancerous patches on the skin) of the face and/or scalp
- External genital warts and perianal warts
- Superficial basal cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer).
How Does Aldara Work?It is not entirely clear why Aldara works to treat actinic keratosis lesions, basal cell carcinoma, or genital warts. However, it is thought that the beneficial effects of the drug might be due to how it activates the immune system.
Clinical EffectsThis medication has been thoroughly evaluated in clinical studies. These studies compared Aldara to a similar product that did not contain any active ingredients (a placebo). These studies demonstrated that Aldara was significantly more effective than the placebo for eliminating actinic keratoses and genital warts. In studies, 44 percent to 46 percent of people using Aldara had complete disappearance of their actinic keratoses, compared to only 3 percent to 4 percent of people using the placebo.
Similar results were seen for genital or perianal warts. In studies, 50 percent of people using Aldara had complete disappearance of their warts, compared to only 11 percent of people using a placebo. Interestingly, Aldara appeared to be more effective in women than in men.
In studies of the drug for superficial basal cell carcinoma, 75 percent of people using Aldara had a complete disappearance of the cancer, compared with just 2 percent of people using the placebo cream.