Can a cream really treat skin cancer? How can you take away sun damage before it turns cancerous? Is there something better for warts?
Imiquimod is a unique topical medication that can be used to treat a number of dermatologic conditions, including warts, sun damage and actinic keratosis, and even superficial skin cancers. The active ingredient in this cream works by stimulating the body’s own immune system to attack atypical skin cells.
When the skin is infected with a virus or a skin cancer develops, those affected skin cells become abnormal. Even though they are different from normal, healthy skin, these atypical cells elude the body’s immune system and continue to grow. The result is a persistent wart infection that can spread, or a skin cancer that grows relentlessly affecting the skin and other tissues.
By stimulating the immune system, imiquimod makes sure these atypical cells are detected by the body’s natural surveillance system, attacked, and destroyed.
Imiquimod specifically activates the Toll-like receptor-7 pathway in the immune system. This pathway is used by cells to recognize foreign disease-causing substances (pathogens) when they enter the body. Activation of the pathways leads to the generation of cytokines – tiny molecular messengers in the body that stimulate the immune system to act.
Imiquimod cream is applied to the skin anywhere from 2-3 times a week to almost daily, depending on the condition being treated. Treatment usually lasts a number of weeks or even a few months. Most patients experience some degree of inflammation at the site the cream is applied. This is a normal reaction that typically shows up as a red itchy rash, almost like dermatitis or eczema. When the treatment is stopped, the reaction subsides, leaving normal skin behind.
Imiquimod is not for everyone. Contact the physicians at Sanova Dermatology to see if you are a good candidate for this therapy.