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Imiquimod topical

Generic name: imiquimod topical [i-MI-kwi-mod-TOP-ik-al]
Brand Names: Aldara Zyclara and Zyclara Pump
Topical cream (2.5, 3.75%, 5%)
Drug Classes: Topical Anti-Infectives Topical Antineoplastics

What is Imiquimod topical?

Imiquimod (for the skin) is used to treat actinic keratosis on the scalp and face (a condition that can be caused by excessive sun exposure).Imiquimod topically treats warts outside the body in adults and children over 12 years of age. The imiquimod topical treatment is not effective for treating genital warts.

Imiquimod is used as a topical treatment for a mild form of skin cancer known as superficial basal-cell carcinoma when surgical removal is not an appropriate option.Imiquimod topically can be used in other ways not mentioned in this guide.

Side effects of Imiquimod topical

Seek immediate medical care if you have any of these symptoms: difficulty breathing, hives, swelling in your face, lips, throat, or tongue.If you experience a severe skin reaction, such as burning or oozing and bleeding, or changes in the skin where the medicine has been applied, wash off the medication immediately.

If you experience severe swelling around the vagina or have urination issues, discontinue using imiquimod and contact your doctor immediately.

Imiquimod can cause serious side effects. If you experience:

  • Flu-like symptoms, such as temperature or chills, vomiting and fatigue, body aches, or swelling glands
  • If you notice any bleeding or swelling after applying this medication, please contact your doctor.
  • Symptoms of herpes zoster are: skin sores and blisters; itching, tingling, or burning pain. Rash can appear on the face or body.

Side effects of imiquimod topical include:

  • Minor skin irritation, itching, or minor skin pain. Redness, dryness, and flaking
  • Changes in the coloration of treated skin may be permanent.
  • Headache;
  • Tiredness;

Similar/related drugs

Diclofenac topical, cimetidine, fluorouracil topical, Efudex, Santyl, Aldara, and Collagenase Santyl


Please read all the instructions on the label or package of your medication. Inform your healthcare provider about your medical conditions, allergies, and medicines.

Before you take this drug

Use imiquimod topical to treat genital warts in children younger than 12 years of age. This medication is only for use by adults older than 18 years old.

Tell your doctor about any of the following

  • A weak immune system or autoimmune disorder;
  • Sunburn or other skin conditions;
  • Graft-versus-host disease.

Avoid sexual activity while the medication is applied to your skin if you are treating genital and rectal areas. Imiquimod can cause rubber diaphragms and condoms to weaken, which may break during sexual activity.Tell your doctor whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding.You should read all the instructions that are included with your medicine.

How to take Imiquimod topical?

Read all instructions or guides that come with your medication and follow all directions. Follow the directions on the label.Take it only by mouth. Topical medicines are only to be used on the skin.You can experience severe skin reactions if you use too much or for too long. Use only one form of imiquimod in the same area.

Please read and follow all instructions for use that come with your medication. If you don't understand the instructions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.Hands should be washed before and after using imiquimod. Wash the skin that will be treated and let it dry for 10 minutes.

Apply the cream thinly and completely rub it in. Apply the cream at night and leave it on for eight hours. Wash the skin in the morning with mild soap and water. Avoid covering treated skin with plastic bandages (you can use cotton gauze). When treating genital warts, wear only cotton underwear.

The condition that you are treating will determine how often and for how long you should use imiquimod topically.

Actinic keratosis:

  • Aldara can be applied twice a week for 16 weeks.
  • Zyclara should be applied daily for two weeks, followed by a two-week break.

Genital warts:

  • Aldara can be applied three times per week over a 16-week period.
  • Zyclara can be applied for up to eight weeks per day.

The cancerous cells of the superficial basal cell are:

  • Aldara can be applied five times per week over a six-week period. Rub the cream into the skin surrounding the treatment area.

Even if you feel better quickly, continue to take this medication for the prescribed time.Imiquimod is not a cure for genital warts. This condition can still be spread to others via vaginal, oral, or anal sex. You may also develop new lesions while taking imiquimod topical.If the condition that you are treating with imiquimod doesn't improve or worsens, call your doctor.

If you experience a skin reaction, your doctor may advise you to discontinue using imiquimod for several days. Do not increase the number of weeks that you have used imiquimod topical, even if you missed some doses.

Your doctor must check your skin regularly. After you've completed the 5-week imiquimod topical treatment, you might need to undergo a skin biopsy if you have superficial basal-cell carcinoma.Store at room temperature. Don't freeze. Keep the pump upright. Do not open the packets until you're ready to use them.

What happens if I miss the dose?

Do not take the missed dose. Use your next dose as usual. Take only one dose at a time.

What happens if I overdose?

Call 1-800-222-1222 for poison help or seek immediate medical attention.Symptoms of overdose include feeling faint or lightheaded or experiencing severe skin irritation.

What should be avoided?

While the medication is still on your skin, avoid swimming or taking a shower or bath.Use imiquimod only on closed wounds. Do not use it on open skin or skin that is still healing from surgery.Avoid getting imiquimod topical into your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you do come into contact with imiquimod topical, wash it off immediately.

Avoid tanning beds or exposure to sunlight. Imiquimod can cause sunburn. When you're outdoors, wear protective clothing and use sunblock with SPF 30 or more.

Imiquimod does not protect against sexually transmissible diseases such as genital warts and chlamydia. It also doesn't protect against HIV, syphilis, or trichomoniasis. Speak to your doctor about safer sexual practices.Use imiquimod only if your doctor has prescribed it. Do not share this medication with anyone, even if you both have the same symptoms.

Interaction with other drug

Other drugs that you take are unlikely to affect the medicine applied to your skin. Many drugs interact with each other. Inform your healthcare provider about the medicines you take, including over-the-counter and prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.