Transient effect of topical treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis with imiquimod

Int J Dermatol. 2003 Jul;42(7):576-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-4362.2003.01955.x.


Background: Treatment of cutaneous leishmaniasis can be painful and protracted and cosmetic results are often unsatisfying. The immune modulator imiquimod has been reported to be suitable for the treatment of a variety of infectious skin diseases and neoplasias.

Objective: We investigated the efficacy of topical application of imiquimod in the treatment of old world leishmaniasis in a placebo-controlled prospective study.

Methods: Twelve patients were treated with imiquimod cream using a standard protocol, i.e. topical application three times a week, and a further three served as control group.

Results: Lesions of cutaneous leishmaniasis regressed within the first 2-4 weeks in 10 of the 12 patients, whereas in two patients no change was observed. However, after 8 weeks all lesions showed progression.

Conclusion: Our results thus demonstrate that topical application of imiquimod alone is ineffective in treating old world cutaneous leishmaniasis. Further studies are required to demonstrate a possible benefit of imiquimod in combination with other, preferably orally administered medicines.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aminoquinolines / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imiquimod
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Aminoquinolines
  • Imiquimod