Imiquimod Imiquimod topical cream provides relief from genital warts. It works by activating the body's immune response to kill off the diseased cells that cause the warts to contain flare-ups. Read more about genital warts.
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How to use this information
This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your medical provider. If you have any questions, go to your patient dashboard and request a callback for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
Medication name
What you should know about Imiquimod

This medication is used to treat certain types of growths on the skin. Treating these conditions can decrease complications from them. Imiquimod belongs to a group of drugs called immune response modifiers. It is believed to work by helping to activate your immune system to fight these abnormal skin growths.

How to use Imiquimod
  • Read the Patient Information Leaflet before you start using Imiquimod and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, request a callback from your medical provider.
  • Only apply this medication on the skin and to the affected area(s) as directed by your medical provider, usually just before you go to sleep at night.
  • If you are using the single-use packets, use a new packet for each dose. If you are using the pump, prime the pump as directed before using it for the first time.
  • Before applying Imiquimod, wash your hands and the affected area with mild soap and water. Dry the area well and apply a thin layer of medication on the affected area(s) as directed, rubbing it in.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after each application. Do not cover the treated area with bandages or waterproof coverings. However, you may cover the area with cotton gauze or wear cotton underwear if treating the genital area.
  • Leave the cream on overnight, usually for 6 to 10 hours to treat warts. Do not shower or bathe during this time.
  • In the morning, wash the treated area with soap and water to remove the cream. Do not leave Imiquimod cream on longer than prescribed.
  • The dosage and length of treatment is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
  • When treating warts, this medication is usually applied 3 times a week for up to 16 weeks. Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, it may help to mark your calendar.
  • Do not apply this medication in the eyes, nose, mouth, rectum or vagina. If you get this medication in those areas, flush with plenty of water. If irritation occurs, request a callback from your medical provider right away.
  • Tell your medical provider if your condition lasts or continues to worsen or if new growths appear during treatment.
Potential 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.
  • Changes in skin color may occur and may not go away. If any of these effects last or continue to worsen, request a callback from your medical provider promptly.
  • If the skin reaction is severe (bleeding, formation of sores/blisters/ulcers), use of Imiquimod may need to be temporarily discontinued so that the skin can heal. Follow your medical provider's directions carefully.
  • It may cause increased glucose levels, which can affect those with diabetes.
  • 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 last or continue to worsen, request a callback from your medical provider promptly.
  • Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your medical provider 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 medical provider right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: swollen lymph nodes, chest pain, trouble urinating or new or unusual skin growths/changes.
  • There is 4% reported incidence of developing squamous cell carcinoma. If you notice any new skin growths, changes to any current moles or other skins changes, notify your medical provider immediately.
  • 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, request a callback for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at

Precautions to be aware of
  • Before using Imiquimod, tell your medical provider if you are allergic to it, or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems.
  • Before using this medication, tell your medical provider about your family medical history, especially if it includes: recent/unhealed surgery on the skin area about to be treated, immunocompromise (including HIV infection), bone marrow or organ transplant complications (such as chronic graft-versus-host disease), autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and lupus).
  • This medication may make you more sensitive to the sun. Limit your time in the sun. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors. Request a callback from your medical provider right away if you get sunburned or have skin blisters or redness.
  • Genital/anal warts are caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV). Since Imiquimod does not destroy the virus but only helps to eliminate the wart, new warts may form, even while you are being treated. You may also be able to infect any sexual partner who comes into contact with the areas of skin infected with HPV.
  • To reduce the risk of spreading HPV to others, always use effective barrier protections (such as latex or polyurethane condoms, dental dams) during all sexual activity. Request a callback from your medical provider for more details.
  • During treatment of genital/anal warts, avoid all sexual contact while the cream is on the skin. Condoms, dental dams and diaphragms may be weakened by the cream, so they may not work as well to prevent pregnancy or the spread of HPV or HIV.
  • During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your OB-GYN.
  • It is unknown whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your OB-GYN before breast-feeding.
  • Some strains of HPV can cause cervical cancer. This treatment does not eliminate that risk or  remove any abnormal cervical cells that may be precancerous or cancerous. Let your OB-GYN know you are taking this medication and request a PAP smear to screen for abnormal cells that need to be treated to prevent cervical cancer.
Drug interactions

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your medical provider. Do not start, stop or change the dosage of any medicines without your medical provider's approval.

What to do in the event of an overdose

If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. If symptoms from taking this medication are less severe, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 right away.

Additional notes

Do not share this medication with others. Keep all medical appointments.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you miss a dose, wait until the next night to apply the medication. Do not double the dose to catch up. Continue with your regularly scheduled doses as directed.

How to store this medication
  • Store in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
  • Do not freeze. Discard any medication that has been frozen.
  • Do not store it in the bathroom. 
  • Keep all medications away from children and pets.
  • Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Treatment for
Generic Name
Drug Class
Topical skin product

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