US scientists led by Dr Dana Sachs, of the University of Michigan Medical School, have found that besides reducing potentially cancerous skin patches, Fluorouracil ointment, also known as Efudex, can mend the damage seen on sun- exposed faces.
Sachs said: "Undoubtedly, there will be patients who desire a therapy such as topical fluorouracil for cosmetic purposes given the relatively low cost."
The cream, which is used to treat actinic keratoses, a precancerous condition, appears to cause a wound-healing response that leads to an increase in collagen production, which then improves the appearance of wrinkles, reports The Daily Express.
To reach the conclusion, 21 volunteers with actinic keratoses and sun-damaged skin were made to apply the cream to their faces twice a day for two weeks.
At the end of the time period, the condition was significantly reduced. In fact, clinical evaluations identified overall improvements in the volunteers' facial appearance.
During the study, a period of irritation and inflammation was followed by a healing response which effectively "rebuilt" the outer layers of skin on the face.
Sachs said: "I've heard people describe it as looking like raw hamburger meat." But after the treatment patients agreed that their skin looked younger.
"People have commented for years that they look better. Not only are their pre-cancers gone but the quality of their skin seems to be improved," Sachs said.
"People's skin was much softer, the texture was improved. There are fewer wrinkles around the upper cheek and eyes," the expert added.