Aldara treats warts around the genital and anal areas, flaking and discoloration of the skin from sun exposure, and a form of skin cancer. Avoid exposure to sunlight as much as possible.

Aldara Overview


Aldara is a prescription medication used to treat warts around the genital and anal areas, actinic keratosis (flaking and discoloration of the skin from sun exposure), and superficial basal cell carcinoma (a form of skin cancer) in adults. Aldara belongs to a group of drugs called immune response modifiers, which stimulate the body's immune response to treat warts. The exact way Aldara works to treat other conditions is unknown.

This medication comes in the form of a cream to be applied to the affected area 2 to 5 times a week for up to 16 weeks depending upon the condition being treated.

Common side effects include redness, swelling, sores, blisters and other changes to the area where Aldara cream is applied. 

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Uses of Aldara

Aldara cream is a prescription medicine used to treat:

  • external genital and perianal warts in people 12 years and older. Aldara cream is not a cure for genital warts.
  • actinic keratosis in adults with normal immune systems. 
  • superficial basal cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer) in adults with normal immune systems when surgical methods are less appropriate. 

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.


Side Effects of Aldara

The most common side effects with Aldara are skin reactions where it is applied (treatment area) including:

  • redness
  • swelling
  • a sore, blister, or ulcer
  • skin that becomes hard or thickened
  • skin peeling
  • scabbing and crusting
  • itching
  • burning
  • changes in skin color that do not always go away

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away:

  • skin breakdown or sores that may have drainage, especially during the first week of treatment
  • flu-like symptoms such as nausea, fever, chills, tiredness, and muscle weakness or pain

This is not a complete list of Aldara side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Aldara Interactions

No Aldara drug interactions have been identified, however, you should tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are receiving other treatments for genital or anal warts, actinic keratoses, or superficial basal cell carcinoma. Not all drug interactions are known or reported and new drug interactions are continually being reported. 

Aldara Precautions

Aldara has not been studied in children under 12 years old for external genital and perianal warts.

Aldara has not been studied in children under 18 years old for actinic keratosis or superficial basal cell carcinoma. Children usually do not get actinic keratoses or basal cell carcinoma. 

Aldara will not cure your genital or perianal warts. New warts may develop during treatment with Aldara. It is not known if Aldara can stop you from spreading genital or perianal warts to other people.

Avoid exposure to sunlight as much as possible and wear protective clothing (such as a hat), sunglasses, and sunscreen if you go outside during daylight hours. Do not use tanning beds or sunlamps. Aldara may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.

Aldara may cause changes in your skin color. These changes may not go away after you finish treatment with Aldara. Tell your doctor if you notice any changes in your skin color.

Aldara Food Interactions

Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Aldara cream there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving Aldara cream.

Inform MD

Before receiving Aldara tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions including if you:

  • are allergic to Aldara or to any of the ingredients in Aldara cream
  • have a sunburn
  • if you have or have ever had unusual sensitivity to sunlight
  • if you have a skin disease such as psoriasis
  • if you have graft vs. host disease 
  • if you have had a recent surgery to the affected area
  • if you have any condition that affects the immune system (such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. 

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.


Aldara and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

This medication falls into category C. It is not known if Aldara will harm your unborn baby. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Aldara Cream should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Aldara and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or if you are planning to breastfeed.

It is not known if Aldara is excreted in breast milk or if it will harm your baby. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk, caution should be exercised when Aldara Cream is administered to nursing women.

Aldara Usage

Applying Aldara cream:

  • Aldara cream should be applied just before your bedtime.
  • Wash the area to be treated with mild soap and water. Allow the area to dry.
  • Uncircumcised males treating warts under their penis foreskin must pull their foreskin back and clean before treatment, and clean daily during the weeks of treatment.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Open a new packet of Aldara cream just before use.
  • Apply a thin layer of Aldara cream only to the affected area or areas to be treated. Do not use more Aldara cream than is needed to cover the treatment area.
  • Rub the cream in all the way to the affected area or areas.
  • Do not get Aldara cream in your eyes.
  • Do not get Aldara cream in the anus when applying to perianal warts.
  • Female patients treating genital warts must be careful when applying Aldara cream around the vaginal opening. Female patients should take special care if applying the cream at the opening of the vagina because local skin reactions on the delicate moist surfaces can cause pain or swelling, and may cause problems passing urine. Do not put Aldara cream in your vagina or on the skin around the genital wart.
  • Do not cover the treated area with an airtight bandage. Cotton gauze dressings can be used. Cotton underwear can be worn after applying Aldara cream to the genital or perianal area.
  • Safely throw away the open packet of Aldara cream so that children and pets cannot get it. The open packet should be thrown away even if all the Aldara cream was not completely used.
  • After applying Aldara cream, wash your hands well.
  • Leave Aldara cream on the treated area for as long as your doctor tells you to.
  • After the right amount of time has passed, wash the treated area or areas with mild soap and water.
  • If you forget to apply Aldara cream, apply the missed dose of cream as soon as you remember and then continue on your regular schedule.
  • If you get Aldara cream in your mouth or in your eyes rinse well with water right away. 

Aldara Dosage

Apply Aldara cream exactly as prescribed. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

For external genital and perianal warts, Aldara (imiquimod) cream is usually used once a day for 3 days a week for 16 weeks.

For actinic keratosis, Aldara (imiquimod) cream is usually used once a day for 2 days a week, 3 to 4 days apart for 16 weeks.

For superficial basal cell carcinoma, Aldara (imiquimod) cream is usually used once a day for 5 days a week for 6 weeks.

Leave the cream on the affected area or areas for the time your doctor recommends. The length of time that Aldara cream is left on the skin is not the same for the different skin conditions that Aldara cream is used to treat. Do not bathe or get the treated area wet before the right time has passed. Do not leave Aldara cream on your skin longer than prescribed.

Aldara Overdose

If you apply too much Aldara, or if someone swallows Aldara cream, call your local poison control center right away or seek emergency medical attention. 

Other Requirements

  • Store Aldara at 39 - 77° F (4 - 25° C). Do not freeze.
  • Safely throw away Aldara that is out of date or that you do not need.
  • Keep Aldara and all medicines out of the reach of children.