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Aldara

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Aldara

Aldara

Aldara Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Aldara (imiquimod) topical (for the skin) is used to treat actinic keratosis (a condition caused by too much sun exposure) on the face and scalp. It is also used to treat a minor form of skin cancer called superficial basal cell carcinoma, when surgery would not be an appropriate treatment. Aldara also treats genital warts that appear on the outside of the body, but is not a cure for genital warts. It is an immune response modifier. This medication is available in generic form. Common side effects include treatment area reactions such as redness, swelling, itching, burning, pain/tenderness, thickening/hardening of the skin, peeling/flaking/scabbing/crusting, or leaking a clear fluid. Changes in skin color may occur and may not go away.

Aldara Cream should be applied 2 times per week for a full 16 weeks to a defined treatment area on the face or scalp (but not both concurrently). Before applying the cream, the patient should wash hands and the treatment area with mild soap and water and allow the area to dry thoroughly. Avoid contact with eyes, lips and nostrils. It is not likely that other drugs you take orally or inject will have an effect on topically applied Aldara. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell your doctor all prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you use. During pregnancy, Aldara should be used only when prescribed. It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Our Aldara (imiquimod) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is Patient Information in Detail?

Easy-to-read and understand detailed drug information and pill images for the patient or caregiver from Cerner Multum.

Aldara in Detail - Patient Information: Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Wash off the medicine and call your doctor at once if you have a serious skin reaction such as severe itching, burning, oozing, bleeding, or skin changes where the medicine is applied.

Stop using imiquimod topical and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as flu symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, tired feeling, swollen glands.

When treating genital warts around the vagina, if you have severe swelling or urination problems, stop using imiquimod topical and call your doctor right away.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild skin irritation, itching, dryness, flaking, scabbing, crusting, redness, or hardening of the skin where the medicine was applied;
  • changes in the color of treated skin;
  • headache, dizziness, chest pain, back pain;
  • cold sores, fever blisters;
  • cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat;
  • nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite; or
  • vaginal itching or discharge.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Aldara (Imiquimod) »

What is Patient Information Overview?

A concise overview of the drug for the patient or caregiver from First DataBank.

Aldara Overview - Patient Information: Side Effects

SIDE EFFECTS: Treatment area reactions may include redness, swelling, itching, burning, pain/tenderness, thickening/hardening of the skin, peeling/flaking/scabbing/crusting, or leaking a clear fluid. Also, changes in skin color may occur and may not go away. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

If the skin reaction is severe (bleeding, formation of sores/blisters/ulcers), imiquimod may need to be temporarily stopped so that the skin can heal. Follow your doctor's directions.

Flu-like symptoms (such as fever, tiredness, muscle aches), runny/stuffy nose, cough, diarrhea, nausea, and back pain may also occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: swollen glands (lymph nodes), new unusual skin growths/changes, chest pain, trouble urinating.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US -

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Read the entire patient information overview for Aldara (Imiquimod)»

What is Prescribing information?

The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.

Aldara FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
(Adverse Reactions)

SIDE EFFECTS

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

Clinical Trials Experience: Actinic Keratosis

The data described below reflect exposure to Aldara (imiquimod) Cream or vehicle in 436 subjects enrolled in two double-blind, vehicle-controlled studies. Subjects applied Aldara (imiquimod) Cream or vehicle to a 25 cm² contiguous treatment area on the face or scalp 2 times per week for 16 weeks.

Table 2: Selected Adverse Reactions Occurring in > 1% of Aldara (imiquimod) -Treated Subjects and at a Greater Frequency than with Vehicle in the Combined Studies (Actinic Keratosis)

Preferred Term Aldara Cream
(n= 215)
Vehicle
(n= 221)
Application Site Reaction 71 (33%) 32 (14%)
Upper Resp Tract Infection 33 (15%) 27 (12%)
Sinusitis 16 (7%) 14 (6%)
Headache 11 (5%) 7 (3%)
Carcinoma Squamous 8 (4%) 5 (2%)
Diarrhea 6 (3%) 2 (1%)
Eczema 4 (2%) 3 (1%)
Back Pain 3 (1%) 2 (1%)
Fatigue 3 (1%) 2 (1%)
Fibrillation Atrial 3 (1%) 2 (1%)
Infection Viral 3 (1%) 2 (1%)
Dizziness 3 (1%) 1 ( < 1%)
Vomiting 3 (1%) 1 ( < 1%)
Urinary Tract Infection 3 (1%) 1 ( < 1%)
Fever 3 (1%) 0 (0%)
Rigors 3 (1%) 0 (0%)
Alopecia 3 (1%) 0 (0%)

Table 3: Application Site Reactions Reported by > 1% of Aldara (imiquimod) -Treated Subjects and at a Greater Frequency than with Vehicle in the Combined Studies (Actinic Keratosis)

Included Term Aldara Cream
n=215
Vehicle
n=221
Itching 44 (20%) 17 (8%)
Burning 13 (6%) 4 (2%)
Bleeding 7 (3%) 1 ( < 1%)
Stinging 6 (3%) 2 (1%)
Pain 6 (3%) 2 (1%)
Induration 5 (2%) 3 (1%)
Tenderness 4 (2%) 3 (1%)
Irritation 4 (2%) 0 (0%)

Local skin reactions were collected independently of the adverse reaction “application site reaction” in an effort to provide a better picture of the specific types of local reactions that might be seen. The most frequently reported local skin reactions were erythema, flaking/scaling/ dryness, and scabbing/crusting. The prevalence and severity of local skin reactions that occurred during controlled studies are shown in the following table.

Table 4: Local Skin Reactions in the Treatment Area as Assessed by the Investigator (Actinic Keratosis)

  Aldara Cream
(n=215)
Vehicle
(n=220)
All Grades* Severe All Grades* Severe
Erythema 209 (97%) 38 (18%) 206 (93%) 5 (2%)
Flaking/Scaling/Dryness 199 (93%) 16 (7%) 199 (91%) 7 (3%)
Scabbing/Crusting 169 (79%) 18 (8%) 92 (42%) 4 (2%)
Edema 106 (49%) 0 (0%) 22 (10%) 0 (0%)
Erosion/Ulceration 103 (48%) 5 (2%) 20 (9%) 0 (0%)
Weeping/Exudate 45 (22%) 0 (0%) 3 (1%) 0 (0%)
Vesicles 19 (9%) 0 (0%) 2 (1%) 0 (0%)
*Mild, Moderate, or Severe

The adverse reactions that most frequently resulted in clinical intervention (e.g., rest periods, withdrawal from study) were local skin and application site reactions. Overall, in the clinical studies, 2% (5/215) of subjects discontinued for local skin/application site reactions. Of the 215 subjects treated, 35 subjects (16%) on Aldara (imiquimod) Cream and 3 of 220 subjects (1%) on vehicle cream had at least one rest period. Of these Aldara (imiquimod) Cream subjects, 32 (91%) resumed therapy after a rest period.

In the AK studies, 22 of 678 (3.2%) of Aldara (imiquimod) -treated subjects developed treatment site infections that required a rest period off Aldara (imiquimod) Cream and were treated with antibiotics (19 with oral and 3 with topical).

Of the 206 Aldara (imiquimod) subjects with both baseline and 8-week post-treatment scarring assessments, 6 (2.9%) had a greater degree of scarring scores at 8-weeks post-treatment than at baseline.

Clinical Trials Experience: Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma

The data described below reflect exposure to Aldara (imiquimod) Cream or vehicle in 364 subjects enrolled in two double-blind, vehicle-controlled studies. Subjects applied Aldara (imiquimod) Cream or vehicle 5 times per week for 6 weeks. The incidence of adverse reactions reported by > 1% of subjects during the studies is summarized below.

Table 5: Selected Adverse Reactions Reported by > 1% of Aldara (imiquimod) -Treated Subjects and at a Greater Frequency than with Vehicle in the Combined Studies (Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma)

Preferred Term Aldara (imiquimod) Cream
(n= 185)
N %
Vehicle
(n= 179)
N %
Application Site Reaction 52 (28%) 5 (3%)
Headache 14 (8%) 4 (2%)
Back Pain 7 (4%) 1 ( < 1%)
Upper Resp Tract Infection 6 (3%) 2 (1%)
Rhinitis 5 (3%) 1 ( < 1%)
Lymphadenopathy 5 (3%) 1 ( < 1%)
Fatigue 4 (2%) 2 (1%)
Sinusitis 4 (2%) 1 ( < 1%)
Dyspepsia 3 (2%) 2 (1%)
Coughing 3 (2%) 1 ( < 1%)
Fever 3 (2%) 0 (0%)
Dizziness 2 (1%) 1 ( < 1%)
Anxiety 2 (1%) 1 ( < 1%)
Pharyngitis 2 (1%) 1 ( < 1%)
Chest Pain 2 (1%) 0 (0%)
Nausea 2 (1%) 0 (0%)

The most frequently reported adverse reactions were local skin and application site reactions including erythema, edema, induration, erosion, flaking/scaling, scabbing/crusting, itching and burning at the application site. The incidence of application site reactions reported by > 1% of the subjects during the 6 week treatment period is summarized in the table below.

Table 6: Application Site Reactions Reported by > 1% of Aldara (imiquimod) -Treated Subjects and at a Greater Frequency than with Vehicle in the Combined Studies (Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma)

Included Term Aldara Cream
n=185
Vehicle
n=179
Itching 30 (16%) 1 (1%)
Burning 11 (6%) 2 (1%)
Pain 6 (3%) 0 (0%)
Bleeding 4 (2%) 0 (0%)
Erythema 3 (2%) 0 (0%)
Papule(s) 3 (2%) 0 (0%)
Tenderness 2 (1%) 0 (0%)
Infection 2 (1%) 0 (0%)

Local skin reactions were collected independently of the adverse reaction “application site reaction” in an effort to provide a better picture of the specific types of local reactions that might be seen. The prevalence and severity of local skin reactions that occurred during controlled studies are shown in the following table.

Table 7: Local Skin Reactions in the Treatment Area as Assessed by the Investigator (Superficial Basal Cell Carcinoma)

  Aldara Cream
n=184
Vehicle
n=178
All Grades* Severe All Grades* Severe
Erythema 184 (100%) 57 (31%) 173 (97%) 4 (2%)
Flaking/Scaling 167 (91%) 7 (4%) 135 (76%) 0 (0%)
Induration 154 (84%) 11 (6%) 94 (53%) 0 (0%)
Scabbing/Crusting 152 (83%) 35 (19%) 61 (34%) 0 (0%)
Edema 143 (78%) 13 (7%) 64 (36%) 0 (0%)
Erosion 122 (66%) 23 (13%) 25 (14%) 0 (0%)
Ulceration 73 (40%) 11 (6%) 6 (3%) 0 (0%)
Vesicles 57 (31%) 3 (2%) 4 (2%) 0 (0%)
*Mild, Moderate, or Severe

The adverse reactions that most frequently resulted in clinical intervention (e.g., rest periods, withdrawal from study) were local skin and application site reactions; 10% (19/185) of subjects received rest periods. The average number of doses not received per subject due to rest periods was 7 doses with a range of 2 to 22 doses; 79% of subjects (15/19) resumed therapy after a rest period. Overall, in the clinical studies, 2% (4/185) of subjects discontinued for local skin/application site reactions.

In the sBCC studies, 17 of 1266 (1.3%) Aldara (imiquimod) -treated subjects developed treatment site infections that required a rest period and treatment with antibiotics.

Clinical Trials Experience: External Genital Warts

In controlled clinical trials for genital warts, the most frequently reported adverse reactions were local skin and application site reactions.

Some subjects also reported systemic reactions. Overall, 1.2% (4/327) of the subjects discontinued due to local skin/application site reactions. The incidence and severity of local skin reactions during controlled clinical trials are shown in the following table.

Table 8: Local Skin Reactions in the Treatment Area as Assessed by the Investigator (External Genital Warts)

  AldaraCream Vehicle
Females
n=114
Males
n=156
Females
n=99
Males
n=157
All Grades* Severe All Grades* Severe All Grades* Severe All Grades* Severe
Erythema 74(65%) 4(4%) 90(58%) 6(4%) 21(21%) 0(0%) 34(22%) 0(0%)
Erosion 35(31%) 1(1%) 47(30%) 2(1%) 8(8%) 0(0%) 10(6%) 0(0%)
Excoriation/ Flaking 21(18%) 0(0%) 40(26%) 1(1%) 8(8%) 0(0%) 12(8%) 0(0%)
Edema 20 (18%) 1(1%) 19(12%) 0(0%) 5(5%) 0(0%) 1(1%) 0(0%)
Scabbing 4(4%) 0(0%) 20(13%) 0(0%) 0(0%) 0(0%) 4(3%) 0(0%)
Induration 6(5%) 0(0%) 11(7%) 0(0%) 2(2%) 0(0%) 3(2%) 0(0%)
Ulceration 9(8%) 3(3%) 7(4%) 0(0%) 1(1%) 0(0%) 1(1%) 0(0%)
Vesicles 3(3%) 0(0%) 3(2%) 0(0%) 0(0%) 0(0%) 0(0%) 0(0%)
*Mild, Moderate, or Severe

Remote site skin reactions were also reported. The severe remote site skin reactions reported for females were erythema (3%), ulceration (2%), and edema (1%); and for males, erosion (2%), and erythema, edema, induration, and excoriation/flaking (each 1%). Selected adverse reactions judged to be probably or possibly related to Aldara (imiquimod) Cream are listed below.

Table 9: Selected Treatment Related Reactions (External Genital Warts)

  Females Males
Aldara Cream
n=117
Vehicle
n=103
Aldara Cream
n =156
Vehicle
n=158
Application Site Disorders:
Application Site Reactions
Wart Site:
Itching 38(32%) 21(20%) 34(22%) 16(10%)
Burning 30(26%) 12(12%) 14(9%) 8(5%)
Pain 9(8%) 2(2%) 3(2%) 1(1%)
Soreness 3(3%) 0(0%) 0(0%) 1(1%)
Fungal Infection* 13(11%) 3(3%) 3(2%) 1(1%)
Systemic Reactions:
Headache 5(4%) 3(3%) 8(5%) 3(2%)
Influenza-like symptoms 4(3%) 2(2%) 2(1%) 0(0%)
Myalgia 1(1%) 0(0%) 2(1%) 1(1%)
*Incidences reported without regard to causality with Aldara Cream.

Adverse reactions judged to be possibly or probably related to Aldara (imiquimod) Cream and reported by more than 1% of subjects included:

Application Site Disorders: burning, hypopigmentation, irritation, itching, pain, rash, sensitivity, soreness, stinging, tenderness

Remote Site Reactions: bleeding, burning, itching, pain, tenderness, tinea cruris

Body as a Whole: fatigue, fever, influenza-like symptoms

Central and Peripheral Nervous System Disorders: headache

Gastro-Intestinal System Disorders: diarrhea

Musculo-Skeletal System Disorders: myalgia.

Clinical Trials Experience: Dermal Safety Studies

Provocative repeat insult patch test studies involving induction and challenge phases produced no evidence that Aldara (imiquimod) Cream causes photoallergenicity or contact sensitization in healthy skin; however, cumulative irritancy testing revealed the potential for Aldara (imiquimod) Cream to cause irritation, and application site reactions were reported in the clinical studies.

Postmarketing Experience

The following adverse reactions have been identified during post-approval use of Aldara (imiquimod) Cream. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.

Application Site Disorders: tingling at the application site.

Body as a Whole: angioedema.

Cardiovascular: capillary leak syndrome, cardiac failure, cardiomyopathy, pulmonary edema, arrhythmias (tachycardia, atrial fibrillation, palpitations), chest pain, ischemia, myocardial infarction, syncope.

Endocrine: thyroiditis.

Gastro-Intestinal System Disorders: abdominal pain.

Hematological: decreases in red cell, white cell and platelet counts (including idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), lymphoma.

Hepatic: abnormal liver function.

Infections and Infestations: herpes simplex.

Musculo-Skeletal System Disorders: arthralgia.

Neuropsychiatric: agitation, cerebrovascular accident, convulsions (including febrile convulsions), depression, insomnia, multiple sclerosis aggravation, paresis, suicide.

Respiratory: dyspnea.

Urinary System Disorders: proteinuria, dysuria, urinary retention.

Skin and Appendages: exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme, hyperpigmentation, hypertrophic scar.

Vascular: Henoch-Schonlein purpura syndrome.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Aldara (Imiquimod) »

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Aldara - User Reviews

Aldara User Reviews

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