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Postsurgical use of imiquimod 5% cream in the prevention of earlobe keloid recurrences: results of an open-label, pilot study.

BACKGROUND: Traditional surgical modalities for the management of earlobe keloids are often associated with high recurrence rates. A recent report suggests that imiquimod 5% cream can be effective in the prevention of keloid recurrences after surgical excision.

OBJECTIVES: To establish the safety and efficacy of imiquimod 5% cream in the prevention of recurrences of excised earlobe keloids.

METHODS: Patients who attended a dermatologic surgery clinic for the treatment of earlobe keloids were recruited into the study. Earlobe keloids underwent parallel shave excision. Imiquimod 5% cream was applied daily for 8 weeks followed by an observation period of 16 weeks. In patients who presented with bilateral earlobe keloids, paired comparisons of imiquimod versus intralesional steroid injections were performed.

RESULTS: Eight earlobes were treated with imiquimod 5% cream after parallel keloid removal. Twenty-four weeks after surgery, six (75%) remained recurrence free. Four patients underwent bilateral paired comparisons. At the end of the observation period, two patients (50%) remained recurrence free in the imiquimod-treated areas while experiencing recurrences in the intralesional steroid-treated areas. Local irritation secondary to imiquimod application required rest periods in three cases. In all cases, patients were able to resume therapy and completed the study without further complications.

CONCLUSION: Although small and uncontrolled, the results of this open-label, pilot study suggest that imiquimod 5% cream may prove to be a reasonably effective adjuvant therapeutic alternative for the prevention of recurrences in excised earlobe keloids.

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