Efudex is a brand name for a topical skin growth treatment known generically as fluorouracil. Doctors prescribe it for both benign skin growths and malignant tumors. It works by preventing the growth of skin cells, thereby killing the cells of any affected area to which the patient applies it. The manufacturer boasts that more than 14 million prescriptions have been issued for Efudex over the last 30 years. Regardless of purpose, treatment with Efudex requires topical application twice a day. Length of treatment time depends on the presence of malignancy and size of the treated area.
Treat your skin lesions twice a day, preferably morning and evening. Wash the area of skin overgrowth with either mild soap and water or a physician-prescribed cleansing solution. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly and put on disposable gloves.
Apply enough Efudex cream to completely cover the affected area of skin. Complete coverage is important so the medicine can penetrate and stop the growth of all skin cells in the area of overgrowth. For cancer patients, untreated cells will proliferate and possibly metastasize.
Wash the remaining Efudex cream from the gloves to prevent healthy skin from touching the medication. Unless your doctor recommends otherwise, cover the treated skin area with breathable, porous gauze that will allow oxygen to pass through. Discard gloves.
Repeat this process again at night before bedtime. Apply Efudex this way over the course of the prescribed treatment period. During the first week, the areas of Efudex-treated skin will appear red and inflamed. This indicates that the medicine is working. Benign skin growth may require Efudex application for two to four weeks while three to six weeks of medicine may be necessary for cancerous tumors.
Attend physician-scheduled follow-up visits. Your doctor will make the ultimate determination if your topical applications have been sufficient. You will be evaluated for skin exfoliation. Long after your prescription has ended, the skin's healing process will continue and result in the formation of new skin within one to three months after the last Efudex application.
Excessive itching, burning and discomfort during the treatment process should be brought to the attention of your physician as they may be signs of an allergic reaction.
Continue to apply Efudex in the most sanitary way possible to prevent any cross contamination and monitor your lesions closely. When the diseased skin is dying, it will swell, peel, crust over and is likely to burn. This process has to occur for the old skin to die and a new, healthy skin layer to form.
Take care to keep Efudex away from mucous membranes such as those in the mouth, eyes, vagina and anus. Efudex kills skin cells and may cause inflammation, ulcer formation or necrosis to these body parts.
Sarah McLeod began writing professionally for the federal government In 1999. In 2002 she was trained by Georgetown University's Oncology Chief to abstract medical records and has since contributed to Phase I through Phase IV research around the country. McLeod holds a Bachelor of Arts in human services from George Washington University and a Master of Science in health science from Touro University.