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How effective is Aldara for genital warts?

Medically reviewed by Sally Chao, MD. Last updated on Oct 1, 2021.

Official answer


In clinical studies, Aldara (imiquimod) topical cream was found to completely clear external genital warts in 50% of patients who applied treatment 3 days a week for a total of 16 weeks. The average time to have the affected area cleared was 10 weeks.

Treatment is recommended to be left on the affected areas for 6 to 10 hours each application, and then washed off using a mild soap and water.
Aldara can be applied until the genital warts are gone (for up to a maximum of 16 consecutive weeks).

New warts may develop during treatment, as Aldara is not a cure for the virus that causes warts, and only treats current warts.
Local reactions and irritation are common during Aldara treatment. You can expect mild to moderate reactions, including:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Burning

These reactions are normal, as the medication works by stimulating your immune system to destroy the targeted cells.

If an adverse reaction of the affected area occurs (such as ulceration, weeping, edema or flaking) contact your prescribing physician. Adverse reactions may indicate that you need to take a treatment break prior to your next application until the reaction subsides.

For Aldara to be most effective, it is recommended that you:

  • Apply as directed.
  • Attend all required follow-up appointments with your physician.
  • Avoid sexual activity prior to washing Aldara off the affected area to prevent medication transmission.
  • Avoid wearing tight-fitting and non-breathable clothing and underwear during treatment. Wearing cotton underwear and clothing can help manage and prevent skin reactions.
  • Female patients should not apply Aldara inside the vagina or on the skin surrounding the affected area. Uncircumcised male patients are recommended to pull their foreskin back and clean before each treatment, as well as daily during the entire treatment cycle.
  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Aldara (imiquimod). March 2, 2004. Available at: [Accessed September 21, 2021].
  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). Imiquimod: A treatment for some skin cancers, genital warts. Available at: [Accessed September 21, 2021].

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