Imiquimod

Imiquimod

This patient-friendly article is about chemotherapy drug, Imiquimod also known by its trade names Zyclara and Aldara. It is used for non-hypertrophic actinic keratoses on the face or scalp, primary superficial basal cell carcinoma (sBCC) and condylomata acuminata (External Genital warts).

Approved by

the Medical Board. 

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Aldara was approved by the FDA since 1997 and is available as ‘Aldara cream 5%’.

Zyclara cream was approved by the FDA in 2010 for treating actinic keratosis and in 2011, approved as a treatment for condylomata acuminate. 

 

 

How to use the creams:

Using Aldara -

For Actinic Keratosis-

  • Apply 2 times per week for a complete 16 weeks on the face or scalp but not simultaneously.
  •  Apply as a thin layer to the area and rub until no longer visible. 
  • should be applied and left on the applied area for approximately 8 hours before removing by washing using water and a small amount of soap. Therefore it is recommended that it is applied before bedtime.
  • Recommended that patients wash their hands with mild soap and water and left to dry before use.
  • Avoid contact with eyes, lips and nostrils.

For Superficial basal cell carcinoma -

  • Apply only if it is biopsy-confirmed
  • Apply 5 times per week for a complete 6 weeks. 
  • should be applied and left on the applied area for approximately 8 hours before removing by washing using water and a small amount of soap. Therefore it is recommended that it is applied before bedtime.
  • Recommended that patients wash their hands with mild soap and water and left to dry before use.
  • Avoid contact with eyes, lips and nostrils.

For External Genital Warts -

  • Apply 3 times a week until clearance of the area applied (maximum 16 weeks) 
  • Apply as a thin layer to the area and rub until no longer visible should be applied and left on the applied area for approximately 8 hours before removing by washing using water and a small amount of soap. Therefore it is recommended that it is applied before bedtime.
  • Recommended that patients wash their hands with mild soap and water and left to dry before use.
  • Avoid contact with eyes, lips and nostrils.

Using Zyclara -

Actinic Keratosis-

  • Can use both Zyclara Cream, 2.5% and 3.75%
  • Only for people aged 18 years and above
  • Apply once a day for 2 weeks, separated by a 2-week no-treatment period 
  • Apply as a thin layer to the area and rub until no longer visible 
  • should be applied and left on the applied area for approximately 8 hours before removing by washing using water and a small amount of soap. Therefore it is recommended that it is applied before bedtime.
  • Recommended that patients wash their hands with mild soap and water and left to dry before use.
  • Avoid contact with eyes, lips and nostrils.

Condylomata Acuminata/ External Genital Warts 

  • Can use Zyclara Cream, 3.75% or Aldara 5% cream  
  • Only for people aged 12 years and above. 
  • Apply once a day up 8 weeks or unit clearance 
  • The area should be covered with a sufficient amount of cream
  • should be applied and left on the applied area for approximately 8 hours before removing by washing using water and a small amount of soap. Therefore it is recommended that it is applied before bedtime.
  • Recommended that patients wash their hands with mild soap and water and left to dry before use.
  • Avoid contact with eyes, lips and nostrils.

Common adverse reactions are erythema, oedema, itching, fatigue, nausea, burning, flaking and dryness, etc. 

Precautions:

  • (Aldara and Zyclara) Intense local inflammatory reactions - For example, skin weeping and erosion
  • (Aldara and Zyclara) Flu-like symptoms (fatigue, nausea, fever etc.) 
  • (Aldara and Zyclara) Treatment of Urethral, intra-vaginal, cervical, rectal and internal-anal viral diseases are not recommended
  • (Aldara) Severe local inflammatory reactions- can lead to severe swelling of the external genitalia of females which could result in urinary retention.
  • (Aldara) Avoid exposure to sunlight 

Go to: 10 ways to improve your chemotherapy success and reduce side-effects

Other articles that you may find interesting are:

  1. A diet for Chemotherapy
  2. Immunotherapy overview
  3. A to Z Guide to Complementary Therapies

Go to: Return to the CANCERactive drug list

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