How Effective Is Imiquimod for Warts?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Using imiquimod for warts is generally considered to be an effective treatment for about 50 percent of patients. This might seem like a relatively low percentage to some people, but less than 10 percent of the patients treated with a placebo had a similar result, showing that imiquimod is effective for the treatment of warts. Imiquimod for warts works this well only in patients who are not infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which is related to the intended action of the drug. The drug usually is prescribed for genital or venereal warts but also can be prescribed for particularly stubborn common warts.

Imiquimod generally is available as a topical cream that contains 2-5 percent of the active ingredient in the preparation. This cream is applied to the affected area, and it works by stimulating the immune system to attack the cells that are responsible for the creation of the warts. The drug also can be used to treat superficial skin cancers and benign lesions, using the same mechanism.


Patients who are infected with HIV might not find that imiquimod for warts is an effective treatment for them. This is because the drug’s primary action is to stimulate the immune system, which is already compromised in HIV-infected patients. The virus that is often the cause of warts, the human papillomavirus (HPV), is attacked by the immune system after it has been stimulated by the treatment. The immune system of HIV-infected patients, however, is unable to fight off the virus even with the additional help provided by imiquimod.

Many of the studies that have been performed on the effectiveness of imiquimod for warts have focused on genital warts. The drug has been shown to completely clear up genital warts in non-HIV infected patients after a full course of treatment about half of the time. Studies also have found that more than two-thirds of patients who were treated with the 5-percent version of the cream saw at least a 50 percent reduction in the overall wart area. Only about one-fifth of those in the placebo group showed a similar reduction in wart area.

The results of the studies done on imiquimod for warts would indicate that it is likely to have a positive effect. More than one-third of studied patients who were treated with the cream not only had their warts completely cleared up, they didn’t recur after treatment. The cream is sometimes prescribed by medical professionals for common warts, but only those that have proved resistant to ordinary treatments. Despite the probable positive effects imiquimod has on warts, there are still possible side effects, such as increased sensitivity to sunlight.


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Post 3

I think that imiquimod is effective for warts but most people don't use it long enough due to the side effects.

Post 2

@donasmrs-- Imiquimod cream worked for me but I used it for longer than two weeks.

I think imiquimod is good for large, stubborn and chronic warts that come back after removal. Most wart treatments are aimed at getting rid of the wart. But imiquimod is aimed at treating the underlying cause which is a virus. So it's a better treatment option for people who have chronic warts.

I agree with you that it might not be worth the cost for smaller and easier to treat warts.

Post 1

Imiquimod working for only fifty percent of people is a low percentage considering how expensive it is. My insurance did cover the medication, but I still had to pay a bunch of money out of my pocket for it. I used it for two weeks and it did absolutely nothing. In fact, the wart seemed to be getting even bigger. My doctor ended up freezing the wart with cryotherapy which worked.

I don't know if imiquimod worked for other people, but it didn't work for me and I don't think that it's worth the money.

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