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The active ingredient in aldara cream is imiquimod. The cream is often used to treat various skin conditions including superficial basal cell carcinomas, otherwise known as skin cancer, as well as genital warts, and actinic keratosis.
How Imiquimod Works
This ingredient works by helping the immune system to fight the viruses that cause warts. However, it is not completely understood how the compound works for treating skin cancer or actinic keratosis.
It is important that a person uses the cream as the doctor instructs. Using more or less of the substance may cause side effects as can applying the cream for longer than prescribed or on parts of the body that the cream was not prescribed for. Dosages and times of treatment may vary according to each patient.
It is just as vital for a patient to ensure that the doctor has their complete and accurate medical history. There are certain medications and conditions that may affect how well the compound works and the risk of side effects.
Any patient that may have other medical conditions other than what is being treated with the topical cream should tell the doctor. This is especially true if the conditions include autoimmune disorders, skin infections, rheumatoid arthritis, human papilloma viral disease, weakened immune system, or those that require the use of sunlamps.
Applying the aldara medicinal cream properly is crucial. The hands must be washed with soap and water before and after its application. The amount of cream to be used each time may be between one and two pumps or packages, depending on what the doctor’s instructions are.
This compound should then be applied in a thin layer to the affected area before going to bed. The medicinal treatment needs to stay on the inflicted area for 8 hours if treating actinic keratosis and cancer. The cream is required to stay in place for between 10 and 16 hours for genital warts.
Once the cream has been in place for the correct amount of time, the skin should be washed carefully with mild soap and water. The areas need to be without gauze or bandages unless otherwise directed by the physician. Loose materials that are not airtight such as cotton undergarments or gauze may be used if required.
Potential Side Effects
There are a number of possible side effects associated with the use of this medicinal skin cream. Some of the most common ones include a cough, loss of voice, open sores on the skin, scabs on the skin, body aches or pains, skin blisters, tenderness or pain around the eyes, severe skin redness, skin irritation and itchiness, ear congestion, and difficulty breathing. Other common side effects may include skin rashes, skin scaling, sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat, wheezing, and fatigue.
Less common side effects may include joint pains in the ankles and knees, swelling in the joints, pain in the abdomen or stomach, chest pain, bloody urine, cloudy urine, frequent need to urinate, painful urination, cold and flu-like symptoms, blurry vision, dizziness and fainting.
There have been incidences of other side effects associated with the use of this medication. These include slowed or quickened heart beat, swollen or painful lymph glands located in the groin, armpit or neck, severe headaches, pink growths on the skin, shiny bumps on the skin, and a pounding in the ears.
It is now exactly known how many patients may experience the following symptoms, but these also may be related to using the skin treatment: dilated neck vessels, coughing up pink mucus, convulsions, sweating, nausea, temporary blindness, weight gain, weakness in the limbs of one side of the body, irregular heartbeat, and suicide.
If a person experiences any symptoms that have been mentioned or has had suicidal thoughts, they are urged to contact their doctor immediately. Emergency help may be required depending on the severity of the side effects.
Anyone using aldara cream is advised to see their doctor regularly to check up on the progress of the treatment. If a skin rash, swelling, oozing, bleeding, burning, or pain is present after the start of the treatment, a patient is recommended to cease the use of the compound and see their doctor.
Patients should avoid exposure to sunlamps, sunlight, or tanning beds while using the medication. Protection from the sun should be used including sunscreen and sun block.