Aldara is a medicated cream used in the treatment of genital warts. The cream contains the active ingredient imiquimod, which helps your body to produce the substances needed to get rid of genital warts. A thin layer of cream should be used on the affected areas 3 times a week, at bedtime, as it needs to stay on for 6 to 10 hours.
12 pack(s) - £74.00
24 pack(s) - £129.00
What is Aldara cream?
Aldara 5% cream is a medicated cream used in the treatment of genital warts. Genital warts are an STI which are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) and are contagious. There is currently no cure for genital warts, but the active ingredient in Aldara cream (imiquimod) will help to get rid of visible warts when they appear. Aldara is a brand name for a cream containing imiquimod, but it can be found under other names, such as Imiquimod topical or Zyclara.
How does Aldara cream work?
Aldara cream contains the active ingredient imiquimod, which works by helping your immune system to create natural substances which will fight off the infection. It is applied on the affected areas, to treat the infection. The treatment can sometimes cause inflammation, which could worsen your symptoms before they get better.
If you are a male with genital warts under your foreskin, you must pull back the foreskin each day and wash it. If you do not, you may get swelling and tightness on your foreskin and may struggle to pull it back. If this happens, stop using Aldara cream straight away and speak to your doctor.
You should not use Aldara cream if you have open sores. Instead, you must wait until they have healed. You can only use Aldara cream externally, so if you have genital warts inside your anus, vagina, or urethra (the hole where urine comes out), you cannot use Aldara cream. If this is the case, you should see your GP or go to your local sexual health clinic where they can treat the warts using freezing treatments (cryotherapy), or can help to apply the treatment for you.
f you think you have genital warts, you should see a doctor to get diagnosed. You can choose to visit a sexual health clinic near you, see your GP, or use our online consultation service. Your GP or a nurse within a sexual health clinic will need to see the affected areas to diagnose if you have genital warts. Our online service allows you to get a diagnosis without leaving your home. You will need to fill in an online questionnaire and take 2 photos of the affected area.
These photos will be sent securely and will only be used by our doctors to get a diagnosis. Then, one of our doctors will examine the photos and questionnaire and get in touch with you, through your online account. You will receive a message about your diagnosis and if you need treatment, they can prescribe it for you. Your chosen treatment will then be delivered to your home, or can be collected at your local Asda pharmacy.
Always use Aldara cream as prescribed by your doctor. You will get sachets of Aldara cream. Use 1 sachet for each application and do not use more than you need. If there is any cream left in the sachet, dispose of it. Do not save it for later. Aldara cream should be applied 3 times a week before bed, for example, on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Follow these steps when using Aldara cream to treat genital warts:
- Before going to bed, wash the treatment area with water and a mild soap. Also wash your hands. Make sure to dry the area.
- Open 1 sachet of Aldara cream and squeeze it onto your fingertip.
- Apply a thin layer on the affected area. Rub the cream into your genital warts gently, until the cream disappears.
- After you have finished applying Aldara cream, throw the sachet away and wash your hands again.
- Leave the cream on overnight, for at least 6 hours. The cream can stay on for 10 hours. Do not wash away the cream during this time, unless you have a painful skin reaction.
- After 6 to 10 hours, wash the cream from the area with water and a mild soap.
After you have applied Aldara cream, do not cover the area with any dressings, as this can stop the cream from working as it should. Use Aldara cream as your doctor has told you, until your genital warts have gone. For women, this can take around 8 weeks. For men, this can take around 12 weeks. You must not use Aldara cream for more than 16 weeks, for each episode of genital warts. If Aldara cream is not working, speak to your doctor.
If you use more cream than you need, wash away the extra cream. When your skin is clear from any reactions, continue your treatment. If you miss your dose, use the cream when you remember, then continue your normal routine. Do not use Aldara cream more than once in 24 hours.
There are a few treatments for genital warts, including:
- creams or liquids (imiquimod or Warticon)
- freezing (where a doctor will freeze the warts to kill them)
- surgery (where a doctor may laser, burn, or cut the area to remove the genital warts)
Some treatments, such as freezing, may take more than 1 treatment session. Your body may be able to fight HPV naturally, but this can take months and you will be able to pass the virus on to your sexual partner during this time. If you have genital warts, avoid sex until they have fully healed. Do not use perfumed products to wash the area, as this can make symptoms worse.
The HPV vaccine is offered in school to children aged 12 and 13. This can protect against genital warts and HPV-related cancers. Genital warts will not give you cancer, these are caused by a different strain of HPV. You can pass genital warts on even if you have no symptoms or visible warts. If you have genital warts, make sure that your previous sexual partners have an STI test.
Before using Aldara cream, speak to your doctor if you have:
- an abnormal blood count
- used Aldara cream or similar treatments before
- immune system problems
- genital warts internally, such as inside the vagina or anus
If you are pregnant, speak with your doctor about the benefits and risks of using Aldara cream. The treatment is not recommended if you are breastfeeding. There are currently no medicines that change how Aldara cream works, but speak to your doctor if you take any medications to make sure it is suitable for you.
Aldara cream can cause some side effects. Aldara cream in some patients can cause a change in the colour of the skin, around the area it is applied. This usually goes away after treatment but it can be permanent. A small number of patients lose hair around the treatment area whilst using Aldara cream.
Very common side effects include:
- flaky skin that begins to wear away
- hardness under the skin
- open sores
- itching or burning
- mild pain
Most of these side effects are mild and will go away after you finish your treatment.
Common side effects include:
- fever or flu like symptoms
- nausea (feeling sick)
- vaginal infections, like thrush
- sore throat
- ringing in the ears
- loss of appetite
- trouble sleeping
- pins and needles
Rare side effects include:
- painful and severe skin reaction
If you have a bad skin reaction, wash the cream off the area and speak to your doctor. This can happen if you use more Aldara cream than you should. For some women, it could cause swelling at the opening of the vagina, making it hard to pee. If this happens, go to A&E or call 999. For more information on side effects and dangers of Aldara cream, see the patient information leaflet.
Dr Kathryn Basford
Dr Kathryn Basford is a qualified GP who works as a GP in London, as well as with ZAVA. She graduated from the University of Manchester and completed her GP training through Whipps Cross Hospital in London.Meet our doctors
Article created: 27 Sep 2021
Last reviewed: 27 Sep 2021