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Aldara for sunspots and skin cancers

Aldara is a skin applied cream that has been in use in Australia for over a decade. It can be very effective in treating certain forms of non-aggressive skin cancers, including superficial basal cell cancers as well as Bowen’s disease. It can also be used to treat solar keratosis or sun spots. Aldara is also known as Imiquimod, and works by activating your body’s own immune system via a molecule called a toll-like receptor 7. This inturn stimulates your immune system to cause skin cancer to be inflamed.

Important Facts on Aldara treatment

  • This is a form of cream treatment for skin cancers and sun damage
  • Aldara has been in use for over a decade in Australia
  • Only some forms of skin cancer can be treated with Aldara, including BCCs and sun spots
  • Aldara relies on your own natural immune system to fight off cancerous cells
  • Application regimes range from weeks to months
  • Depending on your immunity, skin reactions maybe mild to severe

What is Aldara?

aldara cream for skin cancerAldara or Imiquimod is a cream that modifies your immune system. The concentration of cream ranges between 3.75% to 5%. In Australia, only the 5% cream is available. The relative safety record of this cream has been demonstrated for over a decade in Australia.

How does Aldara work?

sunspot treatments-4This treatment uses your own immune system to fight the skin cancer cells and sunspots and evokes ‘inflammation’.  The inflammation then destroys the skin cancer cells.

What type of skin cancers can Aldara treat?

aldara for bccsAldara or Imiquimod can be used to treat some superficial and less aggressive forms of skin cancer, including superficial basal cell cancers, and SCC in situ. It can also be a good method of treating sun damage, and solar keratosis or sun spots.

 REad more about basal cell cancers

How do I use Aldara cream?

Wash your hands before and after applying Aldara.


Cut the top off the packet or pierce the sachet with a needle and squeeze out a small amount of cream onto your fingertip. Apply this to the affected areas as directed by your skin cancer doctor.


Although the information on the packet states that the sachet is for single use, you could seal it using a bulldog clip and place it in the fridge. Aldara now comes in a pump pack for convenience.


Imiquimod may be used at any time of year, as it is not photosensitizing, unlike Efudix

How long is’ Aldara treatment’?

aldara treatmetn brisbaneAldara treatment is one of the most variable treatments we use. This is because it stimulates your own immune system to fight cancer. Some patients have a very good immune system and reactions are short, and brisk. Other patients have a mild reaction to Aldara, and may need a longer application regime.


As a guide-

  • Solar keratosis or sun spots- Twice weekly for six weeks, repeated if necessary after a break of four weeks. Very scaly lesions should be frozen with liquid nitrogen about three weeks before starting imiquimod.
  • Basal cell carcinomas and Bowen’s disease- Five times weekly for six weeks.

Your skin cancer specialist will advise you accordingly.

What are other options, apart from Aldara for treating sun spots and solar keratosis?

beauty salon series. facial massageSpecialists and leading skin cancer doctors can give you treatment options for removing sunspots, apart from Aldara.  Treatments such as Fraxel Laser or Photodynamic Therapy can be an excellent method of sunspot removal, without the inconvenience of weeks to months of Aldara use.


A suitable treatment will depend on downtime, convenience, and costing for each patient. This table will give you a guide line as to what leading skin cancer doctors use-

Treatment Downtime Cost Limitations Advantages Comment
Fraxel 1927 5-7 days From $990 Cost; may need two procedures if severe sun damage One off treatment, very quick recovery time – less than 7 d. Helps with skin rejuvenation
Efudix 21-28 days $160+ including follow up Downtime, follow up visit mid treatment Cost effective, works very well *Best option if downtime is not an issue and tolerable skin type
PDT –photodynamic therapy 7-8 days $2500- $3500Face and scalp Cost Short downtime, very effective, one off application Good treatment for smaller areas of sun-damage. Eg: upper lip
Picato Gel 5-7 days $150 for 5 cm by 5 cm Cost; variable levels of inflammation. Shorter downtime Variable inflammation; needs physician monitoring.
Aldara 4-8 weeks $300-$700 including follow ups Long treatment regime Limited use

What treatment should I consider if Aldara treatment is too long for me?

Aldara is a good treatment for sunspots, however the protracted daily use for weeks or months may not suit busy patients. There are other treatments that are very effective for the treatment of sunspots and skin cancers with a much shorter ‘downtime’ compared to Aldara.


Shorter treatments for sunspots include –


Fraxel 1927 laser

fraxel brisbane








Read more about Fraxel laser for sunspots


PDT or photodynamic therapy

pdt skin cancers








Read more about photodynamic therapy


What is the cost of Aldara treatment for sunspots?

Aldara cost will depend on several factors including the area you are treating, the number of treatment cycles, and the types of skin cancers or sun damage.

As a guide, treatment for superficial BCCs are subsidised, however treating sun spots and solar keratosis are not.


Aldara for solar keratosis costs between $130-$300 – depending on the area used.


Aldara is subsidized under DVA, however PDT or photodynamic therapy is a better option.


Read more about photodynamic therapy