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What does it do?

Imiquimod is used to treat some skin conditions, such as genital warts and certain types of skin cancer.

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have eczema or psoriasis, HIV, or if you have had a transplant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

How should you use it?

Wash the affected area of skin and allow to dry. Wash and dry your hands, then using a fingertip rub the cream into the treatment area until it disappears. Wash your hands again when you are finished.

Apply imiquimod at bedtime, and leave on for 6 to 10 hours as directed before washing off. Imiquimod is usually applied for 5 days in a week for skin cancers and 3 days in a week for genital warts and other skin conditions.

If you are using imiquimod for skin cancer, apply enough cream to cover the affected area and 1 cm of skin around it.
For all other conditions, apply enough cream to cover the affected area.

Avoid having sex soon after applying the cream to your genitals because it may irritate your partner’s skin. Try to apply it after sex rather than before.

What if you forget a dose?

If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and apply your next dose at the usual time. Otherwise, apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do not apply the cream more than once a day.

Can you take other medicines?

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, aches and pains)

Tell your doctor

Red, blistered, peeling, cracked, flaky, sore skin

This is expected and shows the cream is working. Tell your doctor if troublesome.

Change in skin colour where the cream has been applied


Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • If you are applying imiquimod to your genitals, latex condoms and diaphragms might be affected. Discuss this with your health professional.
  • Take care not to get any imiquimod in your eyes or nose, or on your lips. If you get some in your eyes, nose or on your lips, rinse immediately with water.
  • Your skin will probably look worse while using imiquimod. It may also feel uncomfortable. These are signs that the imiquimod is working.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. March 2023

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed