Efudex or 5-fluorouracil is a topical medication used in the treatment of pre-cancerous skin lesions (called actinic keratoses) and some superficial, thin forms of skin cancer (superficial basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma in-situ). It works by interfering with the skin cell’s ability to reproduce or replicate. Since pre-cancerous lesions and skin cancers are more rapidly dividing than normal skin cells, they are selectively targeted and destroyed. The typical course of Efudex treatment is 4 to 6 weeks and irritation/inflammation of the treatment site is both expected and desired to achieve a favorable outcome.
All wounds heal best when kept clean, moist and covered. The following steps will promote optimal wound healing and yield the best cosmetic result:
- Apply a thin amount of Efudex using a Q-tip to the treatment site and immediate surrounding area 2 times per day. The best time to apply the medication is in the mid morning (10 am) and early evening (5 pm). You will want to gently wash your face before bedtime so that any residual medication is not transferred to unwanted areas while sleeping. In general, any site that comes into contact with Efudex is at risk of becoming irritated.
- Do not cover the medication after application as this may increase its effectiveness and cause more intense irritation and swelling.
- Redness, itching, burning, soreness, scaling or crusting, swelling and occasionally pinpoint bleeding are common and expected skin reactions to Efudex treatment. The skin will heal well following the treatment course and scarring is usually not a concern. Treatment photographs are available at www.efudex.com
- If you experience severe irritation or have a concern about the progress of your treatment, please contact Bowling Green Dermatology & Skin Cancer Specialists.