Fluorouracil is a topical chemotherapy agent that is typically used to treat precancerous cells for people with actinic keratosis or basal cell carcinomas. It is manufactured under the brand names Efudex and Carac.
How Does Fluorouracil Work?
Topical Fluorouracil treats precancerous cells by interfering with cellular DNA causing cell death. In some cases, your dermatologist may prescribe fluorouracil mixed with calcipotriene (Brand name Dovonex). Fluorouracil mixed with calcipotriene works more quickly than just fluorouracil on its own. Calcipotriene is typically used to treat psoriasis by slowing down cell replication. This makes it effective for treating precancerous cells by slowing down the rate that abnormal cells replicate, giving enough time for the fluorouracil to kill those cells faster than they can replicate.
How to Apply It
Fluorouracil comes in a solution and a cream that you apply on the skin. Before you apply it on your skin, make sure the area you are applying it to is clean and dry. Once the area is clean, apply a very thin layer of the medication to the areas as indicated by your dermatologist. Rub it into your skin completely to complete the application process.
It is generally recommended that you apply fluorouracil at the same time every day to help you remember when to apply it. Do not apply more or less of the medication than what was prescribed by your doctor. Do not stop the treatment until your doctor tells you to do so.
Potential Side Effects
When undergoing treatment with fluorouracil, make sure to take note of any side effects you may experience. The most common are skin redness, irritation, blistering, and scaling. Mild and severe symptoms may both be indicators of clinical improvement. You may also become more sensitive to sunlight when on this medication. Due to this, it is advised that you wear sunscreen and protective clothing when venturing outside.
If you begin to notice that some of your symptoms are severe and show no indication of going away, consult with your doctor to determine how to proceed with the treatment going forward.
Side effects can linger for up to a few weeks after your treatment is completed. If the affected area that you applied fluorouracil to becomes uncomfortable during and after the treatment, apply some Vaseline or Aquaphor ointment to ease the symptoms. Avoid products with any sort of fragrances or dyes as they can further irritate the area. If severe skin irritation occurs, leading to open lesions, avoid application on the broken skin.
Fluorouracil can treat precancerous cells effectively depending on how many of those cells the patient has and how deep they go in the body. Make sure to follow the treatment as prescribed by your doctor to avoid any unnecessary side effects.
If you have any further questions about the medication you were prescribed, feel free to give us a call at claRx Big Country Dermatology Pharmacy. We are more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.