The chemotherapy drug fluorouracil is often used as part of treatment for cancers of the colon, pancreas and other organs, and researchers have long known that the drug changes the appearance of the skin. However, recent studies suggest that these changes can actually improve the texture and tone of sun-damaged skin, and may even help to reduce wrinkles.
Wrinkles, fine lines, age spots and hyperpigmentation are often the result of excessive UV exposure, genetics and a poor skin maintenance routine. While certain cosmetic procedures can improve the effects of aging, there are several side effects involved.
Three dermatologists recently joined a research team to review the effects of fluorouracil on 21 healthy volunteers with sun-damaged skin and lesions. The candidates were required to apply 5 per cent fluorouracil cream to their face twice per day for two weeks, and their skin was examined at the 1, 2, 4, 6, 10 and 24-week mark throughout the course of the study.
Results showed a significant decrease in hyperpigmented skin, a reduction in dark spots, an improvement in the color of the skin, and an increase of collagen. The team of researchers concluded that fluorouracil applied topically could improve the healing of the skin and resist the effects of aging. The final report also indicated that the wound healing pattern that occurs after applying fluorouracil treatments follows the same pattern as that of laser treatments, which means the skin cells are reacting to the product.
Side effects of the treatment included excessive dryness, peeling and itching that could last several weeks before the skin began to heal. However, these are the same effects of a non-ablative laser or other intensive resurfacing treatment, so applying the cream may present a better option for those who wanted to diminish the signs of aging.