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|Type of medicine
|Boosting the immune system to fight off the wart(s)
|Use with alcohol
|No known issue
How does Aldara work to treat HPV?
Genital warts are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). This virus is passed on through direct skin-to-skin contact (such as sexual contact) with someone who has HPV on their skin. Aldara Cream helps eradicate this virus by helping the body stimulate its own defence mechanisms, acting as an immune response modifier (IRM).
Essentially, it helps the body attack the virus itself by stimulating the production of cytokines that stop the virus from multiplying in cells. They also reduce cell abnormalities.
With the help of imiquimod, the immune system releases chemicals to attack and kill viruses. It stops the HPV in its tracks by preventing it from multiplying inside cells. When HPV type 6 & 11 are killed, your genital warts should clear. Warts treated with Aldara are less likely to recur, and you may never have them again.
What do genital warts look like?
Worried you might have warts? You may have noticed small growths and fleshy bumps around your penis, vagina, or anus that weren’t there before. Don’t worry — they are a common and largely harmless STD/viral skin infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), and they can be treated using a topical cream such as Aldara.
Can Aldara Cream treat other kinds of warts?
Warts that occur on your hands and feet look and feel different from genital warts. Internal warts are not to be treated by Aldara, and neither are warts in the mouth caused by HPV. It’s best to seek alternative treatment, as using the wrong type of cream can damage your skin.
How quickly does Aldara Cream treat genital warts?
Aldara skin cream helps genital wart outbreaks disappear, usually within 4 months of starting the treatment. Half the women who clear will do so in 8 weeks, half the men who clear will do so in 12 weeks; but with some patients, warts may clear as early as 4 weeks.
Continue to use Aldara Cream as instructed until your warts have completely gone. Do not use Aldara Cream for more than 16 weeks in the treatment of each episode of warts. If your genital warts have not cleared after 16 weeks of treatment with Aldara Cream you should see your GP to discuss alternate treatment for your genital warts.
Getting rid of genital warts
Genital warts cannot be 100% cured — only treated. When your immune system is under stress, warts may reappear, even after a successful course of treatment.
The only non-medicinal treatment is to have warts physically removed. This is often only used in more severe cases when all medicinal treatments have been exhausted. You will have to speak to your GP for further information.
An effective topical treatment such as Aldara Cream can be used to treat flare-ups, itching and other symptoms.
Read more about how to get rid of genital warts here.
How to use Aldara Cream to treat warts
Aldara Cream should be applied three times a week. This could be Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, or other similar combinations of days. You should always have a gap of at least one day between applications.
Each application of Aldara Cream should be carried out as follows:
- Before going to bed, wash your hands and the treatment area with mild soap and water. Dry thoroughly
- Open a new sachet and squeeze some Aldara Cream onto your fingertip — you don’t need too much cream
- Apply Aldara Cream in a thin layer onto a clean, dry wart area and rub gently into the skin until the cream vanishes
- After application of the cream, throw away the opened sachet and wash hands with soap and water
- Leave Aldara Cream on warts for 6 to 10 hours. Do not shower or bathe during this time
- After 6 to 10 hours, wash the area where Aldara Cream was applied with mild soap and water
It’s a good idea to apply Aldara Cream to clean skin before getting into bed at night. Keep your hands clean and avoid getting Aldara Cream on other areas of skin. Men with warts under the foreskin should pull the foreskin back each day and wash underneath it.
Should genital warts be covered?
Do not cover warts or treated areas with dressings or bandages during treatment.
One sachet contains enough cream to cover a wart area of 20 cm2 (approx. 3 square inches). Each sachet should be thrown away (including any leftover cream) after a single application. Use a new sachet for every day of treatment.
Aldara Cream contains the active ingredient imiquimod in a 5% formulation. Imiquimod is primarily used to treat the viral infection (HPV) that causes warts, and can also be found in a wart cream called Zyclara.
The cream also contains: isostearic acid, benzyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, white soft paraffin, polysorbate 60, sorbitan stearate, glycerol, methyl hydroxybenzoate (E218), propyl hydroxybenzoate (E216), xanthan gum, purified water.
Aldara side effects
Using Aldara Cream can cause some side effects during use due to the sensitivity of the skin you’re applying it to. These reactions are generally not serious and should subside within around 2 weeks after your treatment is complete.
Reactions from using Aldara Cream can include:
- Skin reactions, including redness
- Wearing away of the skin
- Flakiness and swelling
- Hardening under the skin
- Small open sores
- A crust that forms during healing
- Small bubbles under the skin
- A burning sensation or pain in areas where you have applied Aldara Cream.
Please read the patient information leaflet supplied with Aldara Cream before use for a full list of side effects. You can also read our guide on Aldara Side Effects to find out more information.
Please read the following warnings before applying Aldara Cream to ensure it is safe and effective for you.
- If you have open sores, do not start using Aldara Cream until after the sores have healed.
- If you have internal warts, do not use Aldara Cream in the urethra (the hole from which urine is passed), the vagina (birth canal), the cervix (internal female organ), or anywhere inside your anus (rectum). Do not apply Aldara internally.
- Aldara Cream can weaken latex condoms and diaphragms, and therefore additional contraception may be required. If you decide to have sexual contact while you still have warts, apply Aldara Cream after — not before — sexual activity.
- Do not use Aldara Cream without consulting your GP if you have problems with your immune system, either due to illness (e.g. HIV) or because of the medicines you are already taking.
- If using Aldara Cream is uncomfortable or the area becomes uncomfortable during treatment, wash the cream off with mild soap and water. Allow the affected area to recover and then restart treatment.
To find out more about other people’s experiences with this treatment, read our Aldara reviews page.
Aldara 5% Cream reviews
Aldara 5% Cream FAQs
Aldara cream is used to treat genital warts in men and women. It is the only product that we currently provide that is licensed for treating anal warts. The active ingredient is Imiquimod 5%.
It can also be used to treat Actinic Keratosis and Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma, however, this would need to be prescribed face-to-face by your GP or dermatologist.
Aldara is applied 3 times per week and if you should miss a dose, it is best to apply when you remember. Above all else do not apply more than 1 sachet per day.
You cannot apply Aldara inside the body. If you have warts inside the rectum, vagina, cervix or in the urethra (the hole where urine comes out) then please see a doctor for further medical advice this product is not suitable for you.
Warts on the surface of the penis can be treated with Aldara. Warts inside the urethra (the hole where urine comes from) cannot be treated as treated may lead to scarring. Under these circumstances it is advisable to see a doctor for further medical advice.
Warts under the foreskin can be treated with Aldara but it is important to peel the foreskin back and clean the area daily. Otherwise the area may become tight and swollen. Also peeling the foreskin back may become difficult. If this occurs seek medical advice straight away.
Aldara is best applied after sexual activity and may weaken condoms and diaphragms. It is important to note that genital warts (HPV) is very contagious and can be passed on to your sexual partner, even if you are wearing a condom. Friction created during sex can also cause irritation on the treated areas. It is best to refrain from sex during treatment for genital warts.
Aldara does not provide any protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
Aldara cream does not cause herpes – this is an STD that is passed on through intercourse and manifests in the the form of blisters and ulcers. However, imiquimod can cause irritation and soreness, which can sometimes mimic the symptoms of genital herpes.
As with any topical medical treatment, there can sometimes be a skin reaction. In the case of Aldara, some people find that they get small blisters or ulcers as a response to the cream. If you have a severe reaction to Aldara cream, stop using it and consult a medical professional.
Aldara cream is best used for a few months at a time. The earliest you would expect to see the warts clearing up is after a few weeks, but it may take up to four months. The average time taken for genital warts to clear up when using Aldara is around 8 weeks in women and around 10-12 weeks in men.
No, not really. HPV is a common infection and having genital warts doesn’t mean that you’re more likely to get cervical cancer — that’s a different type of HPV. Although genital warts can look slightly unsightly, they have no serious health implications.
It depends. Untreated, they may hang on for up to two years before naturally clearing. They can clear in as little as 4-8 weeks with treatment.
HPV always remains dormant in your system so clearing one outbreak of genital warts does not mean you will not get another, although treating genital warts with Aldara makes further outbreaks less likely.