Aldara 5% Cream
- Available in Cream
- Contains Imiquimod 5%
- Effective Genital Warts Treatment
Aldara 5% Cream
Aldara 5% Cream is a genital wart treatment containing the active ingredient imiquimod.
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What Is Aldara Cream?
Aldara cream — which is also known by its generic name, imiquimod — is a treatment for genital warts, caused by HPV.
Aldara is a prescription-only treatment in the UK. It is suitable for adults and children over the age of 12.
What Is Aldara Cream Used For?
Aldara is a topical cream used for the effective treatment of external and perianal genital warts. It can help to clear up symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.
Genital warts are caused by the common viral infection, human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV — which is typically harmless — can be sexually transmitted or spread from skin-to-skin contact.
While Aldara cream can treat genital warts and prevent future outbreaks, you should note that Aldara is not a cure for HPV. It won’t prevent you from spreading the infection through sex or protect you from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
For more information about sexually transmitted infections and STI test kits, please visit our STI Clinic page.
Aldara can also be used to treat actinic keratosis (a condition characterised by dry patches on the skin caused by overexposure to the sun) and superficial basal cell carcinoma (a minor type of skin cancer).
How Does Aldara Work?
Aldara cream stimulates the body’s defence mechanisms to eradicate HPV, which causes genital warts.
Imiquimod, the active ingredient of Aldara, is known as an immune response modifier (IRM).
By stimulating cytokines — small proteins that are important for the control of the growth and activity of immune system cells — Aldara helps the immune system to release the natural chemicals that attack and kill the virus in the body.
After treatment with Aldara cream, genital warts are less likely to recur, and you might not have another outbreak.
How Long Does Aldara Cream Take To Work?
Within four months of starting to use Aldara cream, your genital wart outbreak should disappear.
This time may vary from person to person. Generally speaking, approximately half of women who find Aldara effectively clears up their infection will do so in eight weeks. Half of the men who clear will do so in 12 weeks. However, some patients may see an end to their outbreak in just four weeks.
Once you have started taking Aldara cream, you should also see a reduction in any discomfort caused by genital warts.
After you have treated genital warts with Aldara cream, there is less chance they will recur.
If you’re worried that Aldara isn’t working effectively to treat your warts, speak to your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.
Aldara Cream and Pregnancy
Before being prescribed Aldara, you will have a consultation with your doctor to make sure that this medicine is suitable and appropriate for you. You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant while using Aldara — they will be able to outline the risks and benefits of using this medicine while you are pregnant.
Studies to date haven’t indicated direct or indirect harmful effects of using Aldara in pregnancy.
Do not use Aldara cream while breastfeeding without consulting your GP. It is not known whether imiquimod, the active ingredient of Aldara, is secreted in breast milk.
Aldara vs Warticon
Like Aldara, Warticon is a topical treatment for genital warts and is available on prescription in the UK.
The two treatments are applied according to different patterns. While Aldara is applied once per day on three days of the week, Warticon is applied twice per day (in the morning and evening) for three days in a row, followed by a four-day break.
Some people may find that either Aldara or Warticon clears genital warts quicker; this can vary from person to person.
Unlike Warticon, Aldara is licensed for the treatment of anal warts, rather than only warts on the penis and the vagina.
A study that researched the clinical effectiveness of interventions for the treatment of genital warts concluded that both imiquimod 5% cream (Aldara) and podophyllotoxin 0.15% cream (Warticon) are ‘key topical treatments’ for the infection.
If Aldara has failed to clear your genital warts after 16 weeks, your doctor may suggest Warticon as an alternative treatment option.
Condylox vs Aldara
Condylox is a topical treatment for genital warts. It contains the active ingredient podophyllotoxin, which is different from Aldara’s active ingredient, imiquimod.
Condylox comes in topical solution or gel form, rather than a cream.
A study compared the effectiveness of podophyllotoxin 0.5% solution (Condylox) and imiquimod 5% cream (Aldara). It concluded that a direct comparison of both confirms ‘that imiquimod 5% cream and podophyllotoxin 0.5% solution have an identical beneficial effect on anogenital warts’.
If Aldara has failed to clear your genital warts after 16 weeks, your doctor may suggest Condylox as an alternative treatment option.
Aldara Cream Reviews
Reviewers online are satisfied with the effectiveness of Aldara in clearing general warts. The general consensus is that while Aldara does present some common side effects, the effectiveness of the cream certainly outweighs the cons.
Users have cautioned that it is important not to apply the cream to parts of the body outside the treatment area, as this risks causing painful side effects.
Some people have commented that Aldara took longer than expected to begin working, but that it eventually cleared their genital warts. Others have emphasised the importance of washing and drying the treated area before applying Aldara. Remember to always follow the instructions before use.
Can I Buy Aldara Cream Over the Counter?
You cannot buy Aldara cream over the counter in the UK. Aldara cream requires a prescription. Your suitability for the treatment will be assessed by a doctor before a prescription is issued.
Why not buy Aldara cream online for convenience? You can buy Aldara cream UK-wide at Cloud Pharmacy — start your consultation today.
After you’ve completed a short online questionnaire and our online prescriber has confirmed that Aldara cream is the right treatment for you, we can issue your prescription and promptly dispense your medication. Cloud Pharmacy offers discreet packaging and next-day delivery in the UK.
How to Use Aldara Cream
You should use Aldara cream three times a week. A gap of at least one day must be left between applications. You may prefer to apply the treatment on a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; or on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday — the choice is yours.
Before you go to bed, you should wash your hands and the area to be treated with soap and water, before drying. Open a sachet of Aldara and squeeze some of the cream onto a fingertip. Then apply the cream thinly onto the area affected with warts, rubbing gently until the cream has disappeared into the skin.
After you have applied the cream, throw the sachet away, before washing your hands.
Aldara cream should be left on genital warts for six to 10 hours. If you have slept for over six hours, you can take a shower or bath when you wake up. You should wash the treated area with soap and water. You don’t need to use bandages or plasters to cover the treated area while you are using Aldara cream. If you are a man with genital warts under your foreskin, pull the foreskin back and wash the area underneath every day.
You should use Aldara cream until your genital warts have disappeared completely.
Aldara cream shouldn’t be used for over 16 weeks in a row when treating genital warts. If warts haven’t cleared after 16 weeks, inform your doctor, who will discuss other treatment options with you.
As there is a risk that Aldara cream can weaken condoms or diaphragms, it is recommended that you wash off the cream before using these contraceptives for sexual activity.
After you buy imiquimod (Aldara cream), you should read the instructions in the accompanying Aldara Patient Information Leaflet before you start using the treatment.
Aldara Side Effects
Like all medicines, Aldara may cause side effects. Aldara side effects are uncommon but may happen — particularly in the area that the topical cream is being applied to.
Among the less serious potential side effects of Aldara cream are:
- Skin colour changes at the treatment area
- Itchy, dry and flaky skin
- Cold sores
- Back pain
- Chest pain
- Cold symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Vaginal discharge
Most skin reactions are mild and the skin will return to normal within about two weeks of stopping treatment.
You should inform your doctor if you are concerned about any of these side effects or ones that we have not listed.
Serious side effects from Aldara are rare, but may still happen. If you are worried about any side effects — especially if they get worse or don’t go away — speak to your GP for further guidance.
You should seek immediate medical help if you experience any of the following:
- Breathing difficulty
- Swelling anywhere on the face (including mouth, tongue and throat)
- Severe itching
You can find a full list of side effects in the Aldara Patient Information Leaflet.
Patient Information Leaflet
Aldara Patient Information Leaflet
For more information on Aldara medication, take a look at the Patient Information Leaflet below: