Aldara Treatment for Warts

Aldara (Imiquimod) is a topical treatment that is rubbed onto the surface of the wart to stimulate the immune system to attack the cause of the benign growth, the human papillomavirus, HPV.  It belongs to a class of drugs called immune response modifiers (IRMs).  The exact mechanism of action is unknown, but it is believed that imiquimod, the cream’s active ingredient, binds immune cells in the skin causing them to release defense chemicals called cytokines.  The cytokines then go on the attack and work by inhibiting the replication of viral particles.

Scientific Studies

Several scientific studies have demonstrated good results for the Aldara wart treatment cream’s efficacy.  Clear-up rates of 88.9 % were observed in children with recalcitrant non-genital warts.  The cream was applied twice daily and the duration of treatment ranged from two to 12 months (Grussendorf-Conen El, Jacobs S. Efficacy of imiquimod 5% cream in the treatment of recalcitrant warts in children.  Pediatr Dermatol 2002; 19:263-6).  A smaller study that only involved 10 patients came to a similar conclusion with complete clearance of recalcitrant common warts achieved in 9 cases (Muzio G, Massone C, Rebora A.  Treatment of non-genital warts with topical imiquimod 5% cream.  Eur J Dermatol 2002; 12:347-9).

However, one review came to the opposite conclusion with the scientists reporting that they had found insufficient evidence to support the use of imiquimod for the treatment of cutaneous non-genital warts (Sterling JC, Handfield-Jones S, Hudson PM.  Guidelines for the management of cutaneous warts.  Br J Dermatol 2001; 144: 4-11).

Aldara Application

The cream is usually applied just before bedtime once the affected area has been washed and is dry.  Aldara is left on the wart for approximately 8 hours before being washed off.  The wart should not be covered by a bandage unless directed by a doctor, although cotton gauze can be used.  Tight fitting clothes should be avoided.  Potential side effects include a localized inflammatory response, itching, burning sensation, and flu-like symptoms.

FDA Approval

At the present moment in time Aldara cream is used for genital and perianal warts in patients 12 years or older. It has not received FDA approval for treatment on common warts.  You must have an Aldara prescription to use the wart treatment. For more Aldara information you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

Common misspellings: Aldera

For current articles on wart treatments and remedies, see our wart removal page.



David Christian

David Christian studied Philosophy at Cardinal Glennon College in St. Louis, MO and served in the US Army. He is the Head Writer, Subject Matter Expert and Dr. Coordinator at Find out more about David here.

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