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What does it do?

Fluorouracil is used to treat skin growths such as some types of skin cancers.

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have other skin problems such as chloasma (brown patches on your face) or rosacea.
  • Fluorouracil may cause birth defects. If you are planning to become pregnant, or find you are pregnant, contact your doctor. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding.

How should you use it?

Wash your hands, then using the tip of a cotton bud apply a thin layer to the affected area of skin regularly as directed.
Some people may need to cover the treated area with a dressing. Your doctor will tell you if you need to do this.
Wash your hands again after applying the cream, unless your hands are the affected area.

Do not apply fluorouracil immediately before bed. It may rub onto your pillow or sheets, and then may come into contact with healthy skin.

What if you forget a dose?

If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and apply your next dose at the usual time. Otherwise, apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do not apply two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Red, blistered, peeling, cracked, flaky, sore skin

This is expected and shows the cream is working. Tell your doctor if troublesome.

Persistent white marks or scarring

Tell your doctor if troublesome

More sensitive to sunlight where the cream has been applied

Protect the treated area from sunlight - see Other Information below

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Take care not to get any fluorouracil in your eyes, or on your lips (unless this is the area you are treating). If you get some in your eyes or mouth, rinse immediately with water.
  • If the treated area of skin is exposed to the sun, the reaction to fluorouracil can be more severe. Try to avoid sun exposure. Stay inside for the middle part of the day.
  • It may take a few weeks for fluorouracil to start working.
  • Your skin will probably look worse while using fluorouracil. It may also feel uncomfortable. These are signs that the fluorouracil is working.
  • Once your skin has healed, it may still look redder than normal and feel more sensitive. This should fade over a few weeks to months.
  • If you have pets, make sure they don't lick the area where you apply the cream. Fluorouracil can be poisonous for pets. Keep the tube away from your pet.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. July 2024

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed