Efudex: Treating Your Chest
Last updated: February 2023
Efudex is a topical chemotherapy used to treat actinic keratosis. The cream, also known as fluorouracil, works to rid the skin of precancerous cells your physician deems suspect. It is fairly typical to see dermatologic patients treat their faces with the cream, but other body parts are also prone to developing actinic keratosis. The chest is my troublesome area. Thanks to sun worship in my teens and fifteen years of tanning bed use, I have treated my chest with Efudex several times - and it is always a unique type of battle.
What is different about Efudex chest treatments?
Having used Efudex on both my face and my chest, I have noticed a few things over the years about chest treatment compared with spot treating or treating my face. It’s worth noting that, for me at least, chest treatment is decidedly more difficult. Whether I have been prescribed a course lasting 2 weeks or 4 weeks, I cycle through the same feelings and the same struggles.
Tips for Efudex chest treatment
The following list details my thoughts on and experiences with chest treatment:
- The cream needs plenty of time to dry/absorb before bedtime or before dressing for the day.
- The halfway point of treatment is the hardest - the skin dries out faster.
- Moving (turning the head, reaching out the arms, any general movement) becomes increasingly difficult as the weeks pass. I attribute this to the fact that so many muscles are connected to our chest muscles. I seem to stiffen up during the day to prevent any unnecessary movements.
- Rapid movements can cause my skin to crack open and seep or bleed depending on the phase of treatment.
- Covering or not covering the chest is tricky. It is simpler to keep it covered in fall and winter with high necklines and scarves.
- Covering the chest as I enter the end of treatment and the healing phase is extremely frustrating. I always battle with my raw skin sticking to the fabric during healing.
- Cutting a wider neck on old t-shirts helps to provide more comfort when staying around the house.
- Letting the skin breathe whenever possible is best as it tends to become raw and peel.
- I respond best to using Vanicream lotion - only during healing when Efudex application is over. Other fellow users I have talked to suggest Vaseline or Aquaphor.
- I learned the hard way not to use any product with an alcohol content on my raw skin. I would never recommend anyone do the same.
- At least 3-5 days are necessary to get over the hump when healing.
- The more loose, dead skin I can gently rub off my chest during showers, the faster I begin to feel normal again.
Your Efudex journey
The chest is a large area to tackle and should only be treated with a doctor’s supervision. Generally speaking, larger areas like the chest, for me at least, bring on more side effects and increased discomfort. Depending on the severity of your sun damage, your reaction to Efudex may be more or less intense than other patients. If you have been prescribed Efudex, reach out other users. We have advice, can provide support, and want to help you through your treatment. Treatment will be uncomfortable, but reaching out to others will ease the fears that come with it.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?