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Imiquimod cream is used for treating genital warts, solar kerastoses, and basal cell skin cancers. The cream works by stimulating the production of cytokines, which aid in the elimination of viruses and cancerous cells. The cream is also used to prevent further development of possibly-cancerous skin lesions. Imiquimod cream is applied topically, and the length of treatment can range from one to four months, depending on the medical issue being addressed. Usage might result in several negative side effects, including loose bowel movement, flu-like symptoms, and body pains.
Genital warts are usually treated with imiquimod cream instead of the usual methods — cauterization and freezing — because the affected area is more difficult to reach and is of a more delicate nature to the patient. Imiquimod cream gives individuals a means of self-treatment, which can be significant for people sensitive about their bodies. The cream is applied near the genitals, the anus, and other affected areas at least three times a week; the cream should not be applied directly into orifices, however, as the skin inside might be too sensitive for the treatment. To supplement the medication, doctors advise that patients keep the affected areas clean and dry as much as possible. After 16 weeks of medication and care, the warts should be completely eliminated.
Treating solar keratoses, also known as actinic kerastoses, is done by applying the cream to the lesions about twice per week for 16 weeks. Solar keratoses occurs when keratinocytes in the outermost layer of the skin grow to an abnormal degree, commonly triggered by overexposure to sunlight. The immunological stimulation provided by imiquimod cream helps to stem the growth of the keratocytes, eventually clearing the skin of the disorder.
Imiquimod cream is also used for treating basal cell skin cancer, as well as lesions that could potentially develop into cancer. Treatment is done by applying the cream to the affected area of the skin at least five times per week, over a course of at least six weeks. During the treatment period, patients might notice inflammation in their skin — the degree to which varies depending on the patient's reaction to the medication. After six weeks, patients should have the lesions biopsied in order to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. If test results show progress towards the elimination of the cancer cells, the treatment is carried out for as long as necessary, until either the treatment fails to work or the cancer cells are completely eliminated from the patient's skin.
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