Aldara [Generic] is beneficial for treating diverse skin conditions. This formulation is presently the best-known treatment for Genital Warts, besides Acitinic Keratosis [resulting in a flat, dry, scaly growth on the body due to prolonged exposure to the sun], and superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma [a common skin cancer caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet rays or sunlight]. Imiquimod enhances the body’s immunity to fight off the Human Papillomavirus – that is responsible for causing genital warts in men and women.
Generic Imiquimod, the medicinal compound in Aldara Cream, acts as an immune response modifier by strengthening the body’s immune system in combating infection, and is particularly useful in treating infections caused by the Human Papillomavirus [HPV]. It is known to enable hitherto hidden lesions to be seen, which can be treated on detection, as in Acitinic Keratosis [AK] and superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma [sBCC]. Imiquimod is believed to activate immune cells that, in turn, secrete cytokines such as interferon that regulate the immune response in a manner which inhibits viral replication and suppresses further cell proliferation. For this reason, it is beneficial in treating people who may suffer from sBCC and Genital Warts.
AK – a condition of the skin comprising reddish-brown, yellowish-black, or skin-colored patches, that are flat and dry – occurs often in people who have had over-exposure to the sunlight, and are fair complexioned. The growth can be a teeny-weeny pinhead size or spread out to an inch. It is itchy, and gives a pricking sensation, especially when the person is out in the sun. There is some danger of the formation of a skin cancer that is known as Squamous Cell Cancer, if AK is not treated. Aldara Cream is used to treat specific kinds of AK, on the face and scalp of the person thus affected, who has a normal immune function.
In superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma [sBCC], a common skin cancer that occurs because of undue exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light, the disease manifests itself in the form of lesions on the skin, appearing in different shapes and colors. These lesions can be in the form of a new growth, or a change in the older growth, or an open sore that may bleed. For any suspicious growth, a visit to the dermatologist is vital, as sBCC can be readily treated if detected in time.
Genital and Perianal Warts take the shape of growths or bumps around the entrance of the vagina or anus, or on the penis, scrotum, groin or thigh. The Genital Warts [also known as Condylomata acuminata] can occur singly or in clusters, varying in size, but are mostly painless, and blend with the skin. If one partner is infected by HPV, these can be sexually transmitted. Warts may take weeks to years to appear. Usage of condoms is recommended to prevent transmission of HPV, but sexual contact should be avoided while using Aldara Cream for Genital Warts, for as long as the cream is on the skin, it may weaken condoms and diaphragms.
While the HPV strains that cause Genital Warts do not normally cause cancer, but a person who may be infected with other “high-risk” types of HPV may be in danger of having anal, vaginal, penile, or oropharyngeal [throat-tonsils-tongue] cancer. As HPV infection can exist for several years, it increases the risk of cervical cancer in women, though the infection does not usually show any symptoms. Having more than one partner, many children, and smoking are all contributory factors to HPV infection.
Before your treatment begins, it is important for you to inform the physician about all the ailments you’ve suffered from; all the medicines [including OTC and prescription], nutritional supplements, herbal supplements you take; informing the dermatologist especially if you have psoriasis [a skin condition that can worsen because of Imiquimod]; if you are taking another treatment for AK, sBCC, or Genital/Anal Warts, as you cannot apply this cream until your skin has healed from other treatments; or, if you are pregnant/lactating/planning to have a child. Inform the physician if you are allergic to anything, including Imiquimod; whether you have undergone any recent surgery that is unhealed on the skin area to be treated; whether you have any autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus; whether you have HIV; whether you suffer from high blood pressure; or, have a chronic graft-versus-host disease.
The side effects are mild and commonly include: reddening, or flaking of the skin; crusting; swelling; itching; burning; or, lightening of the skin color. Side effects that are uncommon can include: headache, muscular pain, backache, swollen lymph nodes, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, or fungal infections. The area being treated may become worse before improving, while in some patients the treated area may become permanently light or dark. In case of severe reaction, some patients may be required to take a break in the treatment.
Aldara is meant for the skin only, so while applying it, you have to steer clear of the eyes, lips, nostrils, or any open wounds. It is used once a day, 2-5 days in a week, for a period of 6-16 weeks – depending on the nature of your infection. The cream is best applied at night, left on the skin for 8 hours, after which the treated area has to be washed with a mild soap and water. It is recommended that the treated site should not be covered with a bandage/closed dressing, though cotton gauze/underwear is permitted. For those using Aldara Cream for AK or sBCC, protective clothing [including use of a hat], and avoiding exposure to sunlight/sunlamps is a must as Imiquimod is liable to make you more sensitive to the sun.
The medicine has to be stored at a room temperature below 25oC; you can refrigerate, but don’t freeze it. Any frozen medicine should be discarded, as well as any partly used packet. Stick to the dose prescribed for you, informing the dermatologist if your condition worsens, or persists. Aldara Cream is not recommended for children below 12 for the treatment of Genital/Perianal Warts, and not meant for those below 18 in the treatment of AK and sBCC. Keep the medicine away from children and pets.