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Readers Respond: Coping With the Side Effects of Aldara Cream

Responses: 3


Aldara (imiquimod) is a skin cream commonly used to treat the superficial type of basal cell skin cancer on the face. It is also used to treat certain types of actinic keratosis (a potential precursor to squamous cell skin cancer) on the face and scalp. For most people, it is very effective and allows them to avoid the scars of surgery. However, it can cause unpleasant side effects, including swelling, sores, blisters, ulcers, skin that becomes thickened, peeling, scabbing, crusting, itching, burning, and changes in skin color. If you've used Aldara cream, did you discover anything that lessened its side effects? Share Your Tips

Wash off promptly

It is critical that you remember to remove Aldara with mild soap and water after the treatment time is up (usually in the morning after leaving it on all night). Application of an excessive amount of cream, or prolonged contact with the skin, may result in a severe reaction.

Avoid the sun

Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds, and avoid sunlight as much as possible during treatment with Aldara Cream. If you go outside during daylight, use sunscreen and wear protective clothing, including a hat

Follow directions

I'll start things off with an obvious tip: follow your doctor's instructions carefully. Aldara is not like a moisturizer or other skin cream you may have used -- it's a powerful anti-cancer drug and so it's essential that you apply it correctly. For example, avoid applying Aldara cream with your bare fingers; use a latex glove, Q-tip, or utensil instead. If you do use your finger, wash up thoroughly with soap and water afterward. Always apply the correct amount: cover the lesion plus a bit of skin surrounding it (about one-third of an inch). And remember that Aldara cream is for skin use only. Do not take by mouth or use in or near your eyes, lips, or nostrils. That's important!

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Coping With the Side Effects of Aldara Cream

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