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Imiquimod is a topical cream that stimulates the immune system. The substance triggers the release of chemicals known as cytokines, which are essential in fighting viruses or destroying malignant cells in cancer. When used topically to address cancerous or precancerous lesions, Imiquimod triggers an inflammatory response that destroys the lesion. At first, it may seem like the area is getting worse, but this is the cream creating an inflammation that will destroy irregular cells.
Imiquimod is used often in the treatment of actinic keratoses or precancerous growths on the skin. It is also used to treat low-grade skin cancers such as superficial basal cell carcinoma. The cream is also used for other conditions such as genital warts, non-genital viral warts, molluscum contagiosum, melanoma metastases, keloid scarring, actinic porokeratosis and lentigo maligna.
Using imiquimod will result in redness and soreness for about 14 days before the skin begins to heal.