Aldara is a medicine for genital warts. It is a topical cream, designed to be applied directly to the warts themselves. The product is made by Meda Pharmaceuticals, and contains an ingredient called imiquimod. This ingredient was first approved for medical use in 1997.
- Simple-to-apply topical cream
- Usable for up to 16 weeks
- Ideal for persistent cases
Genital warts are characterised by small nodules on the skin. They are caused by a condition called human papillomavirus. More commonly known as HPV, this illness is most typically passed from one person to another through either penetrative or non-penetrative sexual intercourse. Although it is not as well-known as other STIs such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea, HPV is common in the UK; in 2015, there were around 70,000 new cases recorded by health officials.
In many cases, HPV does not produce visible symptoms, and may only manifest in warts after a delayed period following infection. As they can be transferred through skin-to-skin contact, it is important to take the appropriate sexual precautions during periods of activity, and seek treatment.
A doctor may suggest Aldara in the event that other medicines have proved insufficient. Imiquimod works by stimulating the body’s immune system. It does this by attaching to cells in the skin and facilitating the release of certain proteins called cytokines. These help to fight off the viral cells responsible for warts, by disabling their growth pattern, and causing them to perish. While it will not cure the virus, it will heal those areas of the skin affected.
The working component of Aldara is a substance called imiquimod. It was first made available for use in 1997, and belongs to a category of medicines called immunomodulators. As it treats genital warts in a slightly different way than other antivirals, Aldara might typically be used in those instances where other products have not proved successful.
Imiquimod works by bonding with certain cells in the skin, which manage immunity. In doing so, it triggers the release of alpha interferon, a type of protein called a cytokine. This provides immune system cells in the skin with the stimulation they require to compromise and break down wart cells. As a result, wart cells expire and regular, healthy skin cells develop to replace them.
This topical cream will not cure the user of HPV, but can help to reduce visible symptoms of the virus.
Please note that we do not offer this treatment through our site. Speak to your GP to find out more about the options available for genital warts. They will issue a prescription as appropriate.
It is vital during the application of any treatment for genital warts to adhere to the directions set out by your doctor, and those in the patient information leaflet. Doing so will help to assure maximum effectiveness and reduce the potential for side effects.
- Use as directed by your prescriber. This will normally be one treatment before bedtime, on three alternate days (for instance, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday). This makes up a one-week cycle of treatment.
- A doctor may suggest repeated courses if symptoms do not go away, for up to a maximum of 16 weeks.
- Wash your hands before use, and make sure the application site is cleaned and carefully dried.
- Use a new sachet each time you apply a dose.
- Squeeze the appropriate amount of cream onto your fingertip.
- Distribute a thin layer over the affected area, and rub in until it disappears.
- Allow the cream 6 to 10 hours to work.
- After this, wash the area with soap and water.
- Never exceed the prescribed dose.
- Men with warts underneath the foreskin should take care to peel back the foreskin and apply the cream as prescribed, and wash the area of application after 6 to 10 hours.
You can find more detailed instructions in the leaflet supplied. If you are still not sure, ask your doctor or your pharmacist for advice.
Download Aldara patient information leaflet
While side effects may only occur in a minority of those who use this product, you should always familiarise yourself with them so that you can safeguard yourself from further illness, or injury. Adverse effects may include but are not limited to:
Common (1 in 10 people or more):
Redness; wearing away, hardening, cracking, crusting, flaking or swelling of the skin; itching or burning sensations.
Uncommon (1 in 100 people or more):
Headaches; flu-like symptoms; erectile difficulties; increased perspiration; nausea; vomiting; migraine; loss of appetite; dizziness; tiredness; facial flushing; insomnia; viral, bacterial or fungal infections; feelings of depression; swollen glands; pins and needles.
Rare (1 in 1000 people or more):
Difficulty passing urine.
This is not a complete list of side effects. A more detailed account can be located in the leaflet supplied. If you experience any of the above, seek immediate medical attention.
Taking it with other medicines
Aldara is not known to affect the efficacy of other medications, but you should inform your prescriber of any other treatments you are using during consultation. Never use more than one product for genital warts at any one time.
Conditions to look out for
Disclose your medical history to your doctor before using this medicine. Those persons with a history of HIV, basal cell carcinoma, or actinic keratosis may not be able to use this product.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Check with your doctor before using Aldara if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Use is not recommended if you are breastfeeding.
Driving and using machinery
Your capacity to drive or use machines should not be inhibited by this medicine.
Can I still drink alcohol?
Alcohol is not thought to affect the potency or function of Aldara. In any event, you should ensure you only ever drink responsibly so that you can continue to apply the cream as prescribed.
Will I still be able to drive?
Although it should not affect your ability to drive in most cases, avoid doing so if you experience any side effects which may make it dangerous or unsafe.
Can I take the medicine while pregnant?
No. This medication is not suitable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those who are should seek further advice from a doctor.
How should I store it?
Make sure you never store the item above room temperature. Keep it out of the reach of children and away from sources of light and moisture.
Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?
The components of this product are as follows: imiquimod, isostearic acid, benzyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, white soft paraffin, polysorbate 60, sorbitan stearate, glycerol, methyl hydroxybenzoate (E218), propyl hydroxybenzoate (E216), xanthan gum, and purified water. Do not use this item if you are unable to tolerate or allergic to any of the above.
Is it available over-the-counter?
No. As a prescription-only medication, you can only buy Aldara in the UK after prior consultation with a doctor.
Is it right for me?
Speak to your GP or visit your GUM clinic. They will be able to discuss treatment options with you an issue a prescription where required.
This item is not available to buy on our site.
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