Aldara® - active ingredient Imiquimod - is a topical cream used for the treatment of sunspots (solar keratoses), basal cell carcinoma and Bowen's disease, particularly where these occur on the face and/or scalp. It has a success rate of around 70% for these conditions, which is about the same success rate as Efudix®.
Originally developed as a treatment for perianal and genital warts, Aldara is what is called an 'immune response modifier' and works by activating the body's own immune system via a type of molecule in the body called a 'toll-like receptor 7'. As a result the immune system recognises the cancer cells as abnormal cells and attacks them.
How to use
Aldara® should be applied to the skin in sufficient quantity to cover the affected area with a thin layer, and this should be done once a day just before going to bed to allow the cream to remain on the skin for 6-10 hours.
If Aldara® is being used to treat sunspots, it needs to be applied three times a week again just before going to bed. An initial course of treatment would ordinarily run for four weeks. If sunspots remain, another four weeks of treatment may be required, and this may be repeated to a total of sixteen weeks if required.
If Aldara® is being used to treat superficial basal cell carcinoma treatment is once a day as above for five consecutive days (eg Monday-Friday) for a total of six weeks.
Aldara® may also be used to treat Bowen's disease, in which case treatment is twice a day for a period of between four and six weeks.
When applying Aldara® to the skin it is important to wash your hands and the area/s to be treated using a mild soap and allow hands and the area of skin to be treated to dry completely. The cream should be applied to the skin in a thin layer and then gently rubbed in until there is no excess cream remaining on the skin. Lesions should be covered with the cream as well as a 1cm margin around the lesion.
To be effective Aldara® needs to remain on the skin for 6-10 hours and this is why it is recommended to apply Aldara® just before bedtime. Do not shower or bathe during the 6-1- hour period after applying. After this period the area/s of skin where Aldara® was applied should be washed with water and mild soap.
Aldara® should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It should also not be used on areas of skin that are within 1cm of the scalp, hairline, eyebrows, ears, nose or lips.
During the course of treatment it is strongly recommended that patients avoid exposure to sunlight and wear protective clothing when going outside during the day.
Aldara® is more effective on smaller lesions than on larger ones and is regarded as less effective than surgical excision and removal of lesions, and is recommended generally where surgery is not the preferred option eg when the patient is likely to form keloid scarring, or where they are receiving treatment with Warfarin, or where they are at greater risk of wound infection (this is the case where the skin being treated is located on the leg below the knee).
Please consult us for more information on this course of treatment.