What is IMIQUIMOD?
(IMIQUIMOD) This medication is used to treat certain types of growths on the skin. These are precancerous growths (actinic keratoses), a certain type of skin cancer (superficial basal cell carcinoma), and warts on the outside of the genitals/anus. 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. This product is not recommended for use on children under 12 years of age unless specifically directed by your doctor.
How should I use IMIQUIMOD?
Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start using imiquimod and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Use this medication on the skin only. Apply this medication to the affected area(s) as directed by your doctor, usually just before you go to sleep for the 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, wash your hands and the area to be treated with mild soap and water. Dry the area well. Apply a thin layer of medication on the affected area(s) as directed and rub 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 about 8 hours if treating actinic keratoses or basal cell carcinoma, or 6 to 10 hours for 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 actinic keratoses, this medication is usually applied twice a week for 16 weeks. When treating superficial basal cell carcinoma, this medication is usually applied 5 times a week for 6 weeks. 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, contact your doctor right away. Tell your doctor if your condition lasts or gets worse, or if new growths appear during treatment.
What should I tell my health care provider before I take IMIQUIMOD?
Before using imiquimod, tell your doctor or pharmacist 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. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: recent/unhealed surgery on the skin area to be treated, immune system problems (including HIV infection), a certain complication of bone marrow or some organ transplants (chronic graft-versus-host disease), autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, 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. Tell your doctor right away if you get sunburned or have skin blisters/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. Consult your doctor or pharmacist 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 spreading of HPV or HIV. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
What may interact with IMIQUIMOD?
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 doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
What if I miss a dose of IMIQUIMOD?
If you miss a dose, wait until the next night to apply it. Do not double the dose to catch up. Continue with your regular scheduled doses as directed.
What side effects may I notice from receiving IMIQUIMOD?
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 last or get worse, 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 last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor 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 right away if you have any serious side effects, including: swollen glands (lymph nodes), new unusual skin growths/changes, chest pain, trouble urinating. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away 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 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Where should I keep IMIQUIMOD?
Store the US product in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Store the Canadian product at room temperature. Do not freeze. Discard any medication that has been frozen. 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.