26 February 2013


Efudex can have life-threatening side effects when used on more than the recommended area of skin at a time. Below is an email from Carol who nearly died from her Efudex treatment.

I ended up having an Anapheltic Shock from using the Efudex on my face, arms, neck and back, nearly died! I think if Efudex is used in small doses it may be safe, but I had a shock and my whole face blew up, eyes closed, couldn’t smile, and very very painful, even got a Staph infection too in the neck!

I couldn’t bear water on me, had to sponge and use a lotion that the doctor ordered.
I have been treating the skin with creams and lotions and taking antibiotic tablets. I’ve been to a specialist as well. I wrote to the Prime Minister about the side-effects, she passed it onto the Health Department for Ageing and they wrote to me and said if I wasn’t satisfied to write to the TGA which I’ve done.
Efudex and Aldara are dangerous and should not be allowed on humans. They only did 16 trials on people with Aldara (same as Efudex but different ingredients). I have had the worst time ever. So my advice is; don’t do a lot of areas or you may end up dead! It hits the White Blood Cells and your Heart!.....if you go on You Tube there are doctors saying how the Efudex nearly killed them too!.....



My Efudix / Efudex Experience - August 2012 to October 2012 by Heather Ellis

Email: h.ellis (at)


(in Australia, the treatment is sold as Efudix, while in the US, it is sold as Efudex)

I've spent years in the sun mostly from having lived in northern Australia (far north Queensland and the Northern Territory) as a child until my late 20s ...and then travelling the world solo on a motorcycle for four years. As a result, a dangerous health risk lurks just below those areas of my body most exposed to the sun.

This health risk of Solar Keratoses. As the SK's grow and become visible, I've previously had them frozen off my face and upper chest. But there are hundreds that are non-visible lying under the surface as you can see on my recently treated chest area. Over time, Solar Keratoses multiply and grow larger on those areas exposed to the sun. If left untreated, SK's can turn into squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is a dangerous form of skin cancer that can spread to other parts of your body. In February 2012, I also had a BCC (basal cell carcinoma) surgically removed from under the inside corner of my right eye. I've also had two BCCs cut out from my upper chest and one on my back.

I started using Efudix on my chest on 20 August 2012 for four weeks. I stopped on 9 September and started treating my entire face today, 10 September 2012. I'Il apply the cream twice a day for the next 4 weeks. I purchased the Efudix on prescription in Queensland while on holiday - a 20g tube which treats a 23cm area cost $46.50 and should last 4 weeks.

The active ingredient in Efudix is fluorouracil used in chemotherapy because it is absorbed by those cells which multiply more rapidly (ie. cancerous cells) than normal healthy cells. Used topically as a cream, the fluorouracil does the same thing and is absorbed by the sun damaged potentially-cancerous cells.

I'd like to share with you my experience by posting my Efudix images so that you too will treat your own sun damaged skin.

Please feel free to contact me regarding my treatment using Efudix.

Heather Ellis

Edudex image

Day 1 - Monday, 10/9/2012

Age = 48 years

(Efudix applied to face twice daily)

I'm nervous as I know what my face will soon look like. I've explained the treatment to my young children who just said: "mummy is turning into a zombie" when they saw my treated chest area. My mum is staying with me, I've cancelled all meetings and stocked the pantry and fridge so I won't need to go out in public agan until 20 October when all will be healed.







Edudex image

Day 2 - 11/9/2012

My face is looking red and small spots are appearing on my forehead. The skin around my jaw line and side hairline is starting to itch. Had my last day out in public today (it was a perfect spring day so went for a ride on my motorcycle with my boyfriend through the Dandenong Ranges).









Edudex imageDay 3 12/9/2012

The redness is really beginning to show. My skin feels tight and sore.











Edudex imageDay 4 - 13/9/2012

My face feels like it's been sand blasted or been pricked a million times with pins. There are hundreds of little red spots and all are SK's. The skin feels tight and dry and the inflamed SKs are beginning to ooze. I really am turning into a zombie! I wash my face with an anti-bacterial wash morning and night before applying the Efudix. While my first prescription says apply the Efudix nightly, the Efudix/Efudex website says apply twice daily. Friends who have used it, also applied twice daily and my second prescription says apply twice daily. I spoke to another doctor yesterday and was advised to apply twice daily until there is a reaction, then apply nightly. Yes, I am confused. But as I feel it is necessary to wash my face twice daily with the anti-bacterial wash to avoid any infection, I'm continuing to apply it morning and night.




Edudex imageDay 5 - 14/9/2012

The damaged areas where the efudix is attacking the SKs is really oozing today (ie. my chin area). My face feels tight and sore. It is painful to make any facial expressions. I don't want to talk and opening my mouth to eat is becomming painful. The Efudix is working very well and at this rate, I'm likely to reach the erosion stage (when the skin begins to scab) in two weeks and not four weeks. It is also getting painful to wash my face.








Edudex imageDay 6 - 15/9/2012

My face was too painful to wash this morning. Facial movement such as talking and eating also hurts as the skin is tight and dry. Last night I took pain killers (paracetamol/codeine 500mg/30gm) to sleep. The only good thing is my face will reach erosion stage in two weeks and not four. I'm nearly at the end of week one. I don't know how anyone could go through this treatment without painkillers! I'll be using them every night from now on.







Edudex imageDay 7 - 16/9/2012

My face is very red and swollen this morning. Showering last night was very painfull and I won't be doing that again. The water felt like needles hitting my face. To clean my face and prep it for the Efudix this morning, I had a bath soaking my face in the water after washing with the antibacterial solution. It is not painful to apply the solution and then pat my face under the water to remove it and the crusted ooze. Even using a towel is painful. Once dry, my face oozes clear yellow serous liquid in its attempt to clean the wounded cells. Before applying the Efudix, I dab this off gently with a sterile dressing. Once the oozing has stopped (about 5 minutes), I apply the Efudix.

Talking and chewing is painfull and I will be living off 5 minute noodles and soup from now on. Only one week to go.




Edudex imageDay 8 - 17/8/2012 (erosion stage reached)

I woke up very swollen and sore. Went to my doctor who advised to stop the Efudix as it had reached the erosion stage after just one week. Once I got home and washed off the Efudix, I blotted my face with sterile dressings to remove the weeping serous liquid, and then applied the 1% cortisone ointment mixed with vitamin e healing cream Protec (I couldn't buy Aquaphor in Australia), the relief was instant. What bliss! I just hope the Efudix has burnt off most of the SKs because, as you can see, I had a high concentration of them.

Now the healing begins and I now realise that I will probably look red for at least another two months by looking at how my chest has hardly shown any improvement after one week!

The result of any treatment with Efudix is severe skin burning and without proper treatment the new layer could suffer scarring. Post-treatment is just as important as the treatment stage. I'm still not sure of what is best to use so it is a bit of trial and error as not much seems to be online about this.

Edudex imageDay 9 - 18/9/2012 (one day after Efudix)

My face is still very inflammed and sore. I still cannot have a shower and can only wash my face by having a luke-warm bath and submerging my face under the water by laying in the bath on my tummy. I'm still using the anti-bacterial wash and gently massage this in leaving on the skin for about 20 seconds as it stings but is not too painful. I wash this way morning and night and then apply the mixture of cortisone ointment/vitamin e healing cream/vitamin e oil/anti-bacterial cream. This mixture is very soothing and I feel no itchiness. To help by skin heal, I am also drinking plenty of water and taking vitamin/mineral supplements. To increase the oxygen/blood flow to this area, I'm also doing a brisk walk for 15 mins early each morning. Throughout the day, I regularly touch my toes to bring fresh oxygen-rich blood to the skin surface area on my face. Not sure if this will work in aiding the healing, time will tell!



Edudex imageDay 10 19/9/2012 (two days after Efudix)

Redness has faded considerably. Note the two red lesions. These were future BCC's (basel cell carcinoma). The Efudix burnt these tiny groups of advanced pre-cancerous cells. Most of my face was a mass of hidden SK's (solar kerotoses), which numbered so many it was one hugh SK. A bit like something out of 'Alien' lying dormant until one day it turned into a savage killer.

Post-treatment healing for some people, including my mother and her best friend, lasted only two weeks. I found this unbelievable but seeing that once the damaged cells had been burnt, the healthy cells could multipy. Post-treatment, they both used only vitamin e oil applied several times a day as needed. They also showered once per day washing the soap. Showers still feel like needles on my face. I'm bathing instead and using the antibacterial wash and then applying a vitamin e healing cream mixed with vitamin e oil and a little antibacterial cream.


Edudex imageDay 11 20/9//2012 (three days after Efudix)

The reddness is much less today. I was able to tolerate having a shower for the first time last night. Still using the antibacterial wash. Saw my doctor today who has advised that it is okay to use the cortisone ointment as it is only 1% and will not thin or discolour my facial skin. To be on the safe side, I'll only use the cortisone for a few more days to help reduce the reddness. I'll use this mixed with Lucus PawPaw Ointment which is natural with good skin healing properties. I've stopped using the vitamin e cream as it contains perfume which could add to the irritation of my skin. Instead, I'm now using ASAP soothing gel which is mostly aloe vera. I'm still using the vitamin e oil. I spot treat any broken areas of skin with the antibacterial cream, then I apply the pawpaw ointment mixed with a little of 1% cortisone over the top to act as a barrier from moisture loss.



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Day 12 - 21/9/2012 (four days after Efudix)

It's now been four days since I stopped using Efudix. The reddness has reduced significantly since yesterday so I am feeling very positive about the end result. I think I've finally worked out the best post-treatment regime for my skin. I have sensitive skin so want to only apply natural products as much as I can. I'm now using the ASAP soothing gel (an aloe vera based gel) mixed with vitamin e oil. On top of this, I apply the Lucas Paw Paw Ointment as a barrier to prevent the skin drying out (when that happens it hurts). I've stopped using the cortisone 1% as I'm still concerned about it thinning my skin. However, my doctor has advised this will only happen with prolonged use not the one or two weeks that I would be using it. To be on the safe side, I'm not taking any chances.





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Day 13 - 22/9/2012 (five days after Efudix)

Each morning, when I look in the mirror I am surprised how rapidly the healing is occuring after such trama. For post-treatment cream after using efudix, I'm still applying the ASAP Soothing Gel thickly as a mask and covering it with Lucus Paw Paw Oinment for healing and as the petroleum jelly acts as a barrier from moisture lose which makes my skin tight, itchy and sore.








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Day 14 - 23/9/2012 (six days after Efudix)

I've just gotten out of bed. This is before applying any healing creams. Looking better each day but still very tender. My lawn really needs mowing but my face comes first. Still using the ASAP soothing gel with vitamin e oil. This is about to run out and the only vitamin e oil I have is in capsule form with selenium. While taking a selenium supplement orally is a good thing as most of us are deficient in this mineral which supports the immune system, putting it on my face is a not so good I've read. I'm still applying the Lucas Paw Paw Ointment as a barrier to prevent dryness.






Edudex imageDay 15 - 24/9/2012 (seven days after Efudix)

Wow! One week. I've come along way since last Monday when my face was swollen, burnt and ruptured. Applied McCarther's paw paw cream this morning. It stung my face a little but on reading the ingrediants there seems to be a lot of chemicals in this cream. Later I applied more of the ASAP Soothing Gel and that brought instant relief. I've stopped using Lucas paw paw ointment as while the petroleum jelly acts as a barrier to stop my face drying out, it also clogs the pores and can cause milea (little pimples where the pours get infected). Will stay with just using the ASAP Soothing Gel and vitamin e oil for the next few days at least.






Edudex imageDay 16 - 25/9/2012 (eight days after Efudix)

I look a little shinny as I've just applied the ASAP soothing gel and vitamin e oil. Today I was able to wear foundation and looked rather normal. I've now stopped using the vitamin e oil as this is very oily and is not well absorbed by the skin (doesn't work under foundation). Instead, I'm using Rose Hip oil and this is readily absorbed and goes well under foundation. There is still redness and discolouration around my chin and sides of face. I expect this to fade by the end of the second week.







Edudex imageDay 17 - 26/9/2012 (nine days after Efudix)

In just one night, the redness has faded dramatically I owe this to using the rose hip oil which my skin is just lapping up. I'm still applying the ASAP soothing gel to the face and chest area at night. During the day, I apply the rose hip oil first and then when it has soaked in, I apply the ASAP hydrating moisturiser, then foundation over the top. My friends are commenting how smooth and wrinkle-free my face looks. The skin is still tender and seems to soak up everything I put on it.

I'll wait one week before posting another photo as there's not that much difference day to day at this stage.






Edudex imageTwo weeks after Efudix - 1/10/2012

There is still redness and the top layer of skin is beginning to peel just like I'm recovering from sunburn. I'm still using rose hip oil and then ASAP hydrating moisturiser as my skin feels really dry. This would be from the fact it is peeling.











Edudex imageThree weeks after Efudix - 8/10/2012

There is still some redness but the skin surface feels very smooth with all the new skin. I expect the redness to continue to fade over the next week or two. I'm still using the rosehip oil and then ASAP hydrating moisturiser. To protect the delicate new skin, I use Invisible Zince sunblock, which is mineral based and does not lose its protection properties after two hours as the chemical-based sunblocks do. I also wear a hat and boat-neck shirts or scarfs to protect (and hide) the chest area.









Edudex imageNine months after using Efudix - 21/7/2013

I have had a number of people ask how my skin looks nearly a year after using Efudix and whether or not I was happy with the result. The skin on my face looks great. Although the self-portraits with my iPhone don't do me any favours. These photos, as you can see, are also without makeup.










Edudex imageNine months after using Efudix - 21/7/2013

Here is a close up of my face. The slight reddness is normal for me as I have high colouring. Two SKs have risen to the surface and I will have these removed by freezing. Both are still very small.











View other personal treatment stories using Efudix/Efudex

Jim - My Efudex Experience






















Efudex image

Day 1 face & Day 28 chest.


(Efudix was applied twice daily for four weeks and will take two weeks to heal)


I'm still treating the edges where only a little of the Efudix was applied accidentally but even this brought out more sun damage. I'll treat this area for another two weeks. It all feels itchy and tight. I'm having trouble sleeping at night.


Day 1 - Stopped treatment on chest

(reached erosion stage at 4wks)

I've been using Efudix for 4 weeks and stopped today (10/9/12). The centre area has reached the erosion stage where the skin has begun to scab.

Edudex image















Day 2 post-treatment

The skin is itchy and tight. I'm applying Protec, a vitamin E based healing cream.

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Day 3 post-treatment

To avoid any infection, I am now applying an antibacterial cream (Bactroban) with the Protec Vitamin E healing cream. I'm still applying Efudix to the outer edge.

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Day 4 post-treatment
Not much change today. More SK's are coming out on the outer edges where I'm still using the Efudix.

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Day 5 post-treatment

The scabs are beginning to fall off as the new skin heals underneath. The outer area is reaching the erosion stage as the scabs begin to form.

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Day 6 post-treatment

As well as the antibacterial cream mixed with Vitamin E healing cream (Protec), I'm also applying vitamin E oil. Notice the outer edge of the chest area where I am still applying Efudix is reaching the erosion stage as it begins to crust.

Edudex image















Day 7 post-treatment

The scabs have fallen off. Today is the last day of using the Efudix on the outer chest area. I tried using sudocrem (used for nappy rash) last night but found it was too drying. I've gone back to using the antibacterial cream mixed with vitamin e cream and vitamin e oil.

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Day 8 post-treatment

The chest area is very itchy and the healing is slow. After one week, I expected this area to have healed much better than this. After a visit to my doctor this morning, I've been advised to use 1% cortisone ointment mixed with the vitamin e healing cream. I'm still adding to this mix, some of the anti-bacterial cream and using the anti-bacterial wash.

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Day 9 post-treatment

Healing is still very slight but it is happening. There is no pain or itchiness in this treated area.

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Day 10 post-treatment

Slightly itchy. Redness is fading.

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Day 11 post-treatment

Still a lot of redness but healing is good.

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Day 12 post-treatment

There's still a lot of reddness. I expect healing is slower in this area as the Efudix burnt deeper into the skin to remove the pre-cancerous cells and SKs.

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Day 13 post-treatment

Still itchy and very tender.

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Day 14 post-treatment

Two weeks since stopping Efudix. The outer edges of the chest area are very tender and it looks like the filaments in the tissue under the skin is very damaged. This will take long to heal I expect.

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Day 15 post-treatment

The skin on the outer edges is not as sore as yesterday but still tender and a little itchy. I think the vitamin e oil with selenium might have done it. I read not to use facial creams that contain selenium.

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Day 16 post-treatment

There's still a lot of redness and tissue damage. No change in healing other than it is less itchy.

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Day 17 (26/9/2012) post-treatment

The redness is fading and the damaged tissue filaments are now healing well.

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Day 22 (1/10/2012)

The discolouration is more brown than red although the photo does not show this. The top layer of skin is beginning to peel to reveal the new skin underneath. It happening very slowly and there's not that much difference from nearly one week ago

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Week 3 post-treatment (8/10/2012)

Still a lot of discolouration but the top layer of skin is still peeling to reveal the new skin underneath.

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Nine months post-treatment (21/7/2013)


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The discolouration on the chest area can still be seen. I am considering re-treating this area as I can feel lots of tiny rough areas and all of these are SKs. I'll consider doing this next winter. In the meantime, I never have this area exposed to the sun by always applying a 30+ sunblock and wearing shirts and scarves to cover the chest area.