Imiquimod (Aldara) for Warts


Generic Name Brand Name
imiquimod Aldara

How It Works

Imiquimod is a form of immunotherapy. Immunotherapy triggers your immune system to fight the virus causing the wart. This may destroy or shrink the wart.

Imiquimod is thought to work by helping the body's immune system fight viruses, including the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes warts. It also may shrink the warts.

Why It Is Used

Imiquimod has been approved for use on genital warts and can be used for hard-to-treat common warts. It may be used at home after a doctor teaches you how to apply it.

How Well It Works

Whether imiquimod is an effective treatment for common warts is not yet known. It does appear to be effective in curing genital warts.1

Side Effects

Common side effects of imiquimod include:

  • Itching.
  • Burning.
  • Blistering.
  • Scaling.
  • Lightening of skin color.

Less common possible side effects include:

  • Headache.
  • Flu-like symptoms.
  • Muscle pain.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

It is not known whether imiquimod is safe to use during pregnancy or on children younger than 12.

Wash your hands after applying imiquimod cream, because it may cause skin irritation.

Imiquimod may be used on warts that are resistant to other treatments. It is generally used when other treatments have failed.

Imiquimod treatment is expensive.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Buck HW Jr (2010). Warts (genital), search date December 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online:


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised September 7, 2012

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