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.