People who have certain skin conditions may benefit from treatment with imiquimod. Depending on the particular product used, this medication can help treat actinic keratosis, external or perianal warts, and certain types of skin cancer. This prescription medicine comes in the form of a cream that is applied directly on the affected areas. Redness, swelling or scabbing of the skin are possible side effects.
What Is Imiquimod?Imiquimod (Aldara®, Zyclara®) 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).
Only Aldara and generic versions of Aldara are approved for all three uses; Zyclara is approved only for treating actinic keratosis and genital or perianal warts.
(Click What Is Imiquimod Used For? for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
Are There Side Effects?Just like any medication, imiquimod may cause side effects. However, not everyone who uses the medicine will experience problems. In fact, most people tolerate it quite well.
If reactions do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are treated easily by you or your healthcare provider. Serious reactions are less common. Although almost everyone who uses imiquimod will experience skin reactions, very severe skin reactions are less common.
Common side effects of imiquimod may include but are not limited to:
- Flaky and/or dry skin
- Scabbing or crusting of the skin
- Ulceration or erosion (open sores) of the skin
- Oozing of the skin.
(Click Imiquimod Side Effects to learn more, including potentially serious side effects you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)