- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: dapsone
Drug Class: Antileprosy agents
What is dapsone, and what is it used for?
Dapsone is a medication used to treat leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, a type of slow-growing bacteria, and dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy blistering skin condition caused by celiac disease, an autoimmune gastrointestinal inflammatory condition triggered by gluten.
Dapsone works by preventing bacterial growth in leprosy, while it works as an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory agent in the treatment of dermatitis herpetiformis.
Dapsone arrests the growth of bacteria by inhibiting the synthesis of folic acid that they require to survive and grow. In the treatment of skin conditions, dapsone inhibits the activity of neutrophils, types of immune cells that are inflammatory, damage skin tissue and cause lesions. Neutrophils release free radicals to kill pathogens, which also damage tissue in the affected region. Dapsone reduces neutrophil-induced damage in skin lesions.
The uses of dapsone include:
- Leprosy (adults and children)
- Dermatitis herpetiformis
- Severe aphthous ulcers
- Bullous systemic lupus erythematosus
- Immune thrombocytopenia
- Pemphigus vulgaris
- Pyoderma gangrenosum
- Relapsing polychondritis
- Pneumocystis (Carinii) Jiroveci (adults and children)
- Pneumocystis pneumonia prophylaxis in patients with HIV
- Pneumocystis pneumonia treatment in patients with HIV
- Toxoplasma gondii encephalitis prophylaxis in patients with HIV
- Do not take dapsone if you are hypersensitive to any of the components in the formulation.
- Dapsone can cause blood disorders including anemia and agranulocytosis. Monitor patients closely.
- Patients with severe anemia should first be treated for anemia before initiating dapsone therapy.
- Dapsone may destroy red cells and the reduced survival time of red cells may result in artificially lower HbA1c values.
- Prolonged dapsone treatment may lead to fungal and bacterial superinfections, including Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea and pseudomembranous colitis.
- Use with caution in hemoglobin M deficiency.
- Use with caution in patients with hypersensitivity to sulfonamides.
- Dapsone may cause peripheral neuropathy or severe skin reactions such as toxic epidermal necrolysis.
What are the side effects of dapsone?
Common side effects of dapsone include:
- Methemoglobinemia, a condition with excessive blood levels of methemoglobin, a form of hemoglobin that does not deliver oxygen to tissues
- Low red blood cell count due to rapid destruction (hemolytic anemia)
- Low blood count of neutrophil immune cells (neutropenia)
- Severely low count of granulocyte immune cells (agranulocytosis)
- Increase in immature red cell count (reticulocytosis)
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
- Kidney disorders including:
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Renal papillary necrosis
- Excessive albumin excretion in urine (albuminuria)
- Low blood albumin levels (hypoalbuminemia)
- Male infertility
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Psychomotor impairment
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Lupus-like syndrome
Less common side effects of dapsone include:
- Blood disorders including
- Anemia due to lack of red cell production (aplastic anemia)
- Decreased hemoglobin
- Low count of all types of blood cells (pancytopenia)
- Pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis)
- Liver injury
- Liver inflammation (hepatitis)
- Jaundice due to impaired bile flow (cholestatic jaundice)
- Increase in levels of liver enzyme (transaminases)
- Increased bilirubin levels in blood (hyperbilirubinemia)
- Acute kidney injury
- Peripheral nerve damage (neuropathy)
- Hypersensitivity skin reactions including:
- Maculopapular rash
- Fixed drug eruptions
- Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP)
- Toxic epidermal necrolysis
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS)
- Lung inflammation due to eosinophilia (eosinophilic pneumonitis)
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of dapsone?
- 25 mg
- 100 mg
- 50 mg orally once daily, titrate to 300 mg once daily or higher to achieve desired effect
- Reduce dose to minimum effective dose within the range of 50-300 mg once daily as soon as possible
- 100 mg orally once daily, in combination with other antileprosy drugs
Tuberculoid or Lepromatous Disease
- 100 mg orally once daily with rifampin 600 mg orally once daily
Pneumocystis (Carinii) Jiroveci (Off-label)
- 100 mg orally once daily or divided twice daily as monotherapy, OR
- 50 mg orally once daily in combination with weekly pyrimethamine and leucovorin
- 100 mg orally once daily in combination with trimethoprim for 21 days
- 1-2 mg/kg orally once daily; not to exceed 100 mg/day in combination with other antileprosy agents
- Administer for 3 years (minimum) in combination with multidrug regimen (i.e., rifampin)
Pneumocystis (Carinii) Jiroveci (Off-label)
- Children above 1 month old: 2 mg/kg orally once daily; not to exceed 100 mg/day, OR
- 4 mg/kg/dose orally once a week; not to exceed 200 mg/week
- Adolescents: 100 mg orally once daily or divided twice daily as monotherapy, OR 50 mg orally once daily in combination with weekly pyrimethamine and leucovorin
- Children above 1 month old: 2 mg/kg orally once daily in combination with trimethoprim for 21 days
- Adolescents: 100 mg orally once daily in combination with trimethoprim for 21 days
What drugs interact with dapsone?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- Dapsone has no known severe interactions with other drugs.
- Serious interactions of dapsone include:
- Dapsone has moderate interactions with at least 52 different drugs.
- Dapsone has mild interactions with at least 77 different drugs.
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Studies indicate dapsone does not affect female reproductive capacity, but can cause male infertility.
- Dapsone should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed and potential maternal benefits outweigh possible fetal risks. Dapsone may increase bilirubin levels in the newborn and the associated risk of brain damage (kernicterus). There also have been reports of hemolytic anemia in the fetus/infant.
- Dapsone is excreted in breastmilk. The decision should be made to discontinue nursing or dapsone, based on the importance of the treatment to the mother, because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in the breastfed infant.
What else should I know about dapsone?
- Take dapsone exactly as prescribed.
- You will need to undergo periodic tests while on treatment. Do not miss your appointments and follow up with your doctor.
- Inform your physician immediately if you develop:
- Dapsone may cause diarrhea that can develop even up to two months after the last dose. Notify your physician if you have watery or bloody stools, with or without stomach cramps and fever.
- Store safely out of reach of children.
- In case of overdose, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.
Dapsone is a medication used to treat leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, a type of slow-growing bacteria, and dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy blistering skin condition caused by celiac disease, an autoimmune gastrointestinal inflammatory condition triggered by gluten. Common side effects of dapsone include methemoglobinemia, low red blood cell count, severely low count of granulocyte immune cells (agranulocytosis), increase in immature red cell count (reticulocytosis), abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), male fertility, and others.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis Rashes: Causes, Symptoms, Types, Treatment
Eczema is a common allergic skin condition. Learn more about types of eczema like atopic dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema and baby...
Skin Problems and Treatments: Guide to Seborrheic Dermatitis
Get to know the symptoms and treatments of seborrheic dermatitis, a common skin condition that often affects the scalp but can...
Celiac Disease: Symptoms, Gluten in Foods, Gluten Allergy Tests, and More
Do you suffer from celiac disease? Learn about diet, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for this digestive disorder that occurs...
Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Quiz:
Does dry, itchy, flaky, scaly, red, inflamed skin sound familiar to you? Take the Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Quiz to learn more...
Picture of Cercarial Dermatitis (Swimmer's Itch)
Cercarial dermatitis goes by several names – also known as swimmer's itch, is an itchy rash caused by a very small parasitic...
Picture of Sea Urchin Dermatitis
Sea Urchin Dermatitis. These black puncture marks are the spines of a sea urchin which have broken off in a big toe. The tips of...
Picture of Lepromatous Leprosy
An infectious disease of the skin, nervous system, and mucous membranes that is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. Also...
Picture of Atopic Dermatitis
This condition is the most common of all pediatric dermatoses. See a picture of Atopic Dermatitis and learn more about the...
Picture of Phytophotodermatitis With Blisters
Phytophotodermatitis is a rash occurring after contact between the skin and furanocoumarins, a class of chemicals found in many...
Picture of Periorbital Dermatitis
Perioral dermatitis is a facial rash in which bumps develop around the mouth. In some cases, a similar rash may appear around the...
Picture of Phytophotodermatitis Hyperpigmentation
Phytophotodermatitis, a form of plant dermatitis, is a skin reaction that occurs after natural photosensitizing chemicals...
Picture of Nickel Contact Dermatitis from Necklace
Nickel contact dermatitis. This itchy rash is a common allergic reaction to your skin coming into contact with nickel from...
Picture of Dermatitis Medicamentosa (Back)
Dermatitis Medicamentosa Dermatitis medicamentosa (more commonly known as "drug eruption") is a type of skin reaction to certain...
Picture of Nickel Contact Dermatitis
Nickel contact dermatitis. This itchy rash is a common allergic reaction to your skin coming into contact with nickel from...
Picture of Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis. Exposure to the oily sap (urushiol) of poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can result in...
Picture of Allergic Contact Dermatitis (Arm)
Allergic Contact Dermatitis on Arm. This example of allergic contact dermatitis is a reaction to a henna tattoo on the arm, after...
Picture of Dermatitis Medicamentosa
Dermatitis medicamentosa is commonly called drug eruption and is a type of skin reaction to certain medications. Its harmless but...
Picture of Perioral Dermatitis
Perioral dermatitis. Perioral dermatitis is a facial rash that usually develops around the mouth but may also appear around the...
Picture of Phytophotodermatitis
Phytophotodermatitis. Phytophotodermatitis is an inflammatory reaction to chemicals in certain plants or fruits. Also known as...
Picture of Allergic Contact Dermatitis (Tattoo)
Allergic contact dermatitis. This is reaction by your skin after coming into contact to some substance that you are allergic to....
Picture of Juvenile Plantar Dermatosis (Dermatitis)
Juvenile plantar dermatosis (dermatitis, also "sweaty sock syndrome") is a condition that causes painful cracks on the soles of...
Picture of Dermatitis From Common Carpet Beetle
Dermatitis occurs with inflammation of the skin, either due to an inherent skin defect, direct contact with an irritating...
Gluten-Free Diet: Popular Gluten-Free Foods in Pictures
Starting a gluten free diet? Get the facts about gluten free foods -- with tips on what to avoid, what to enjoy, and delicious,...
Picture of Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema
Eczema is a skin condition caused by inflammation. See a picture of Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema and learn more about the health...
Related Disease Conditions
What Kills Perioral Dermatitis?
Here are 6 natural at-home remedies that can help get rid of perioral dermatitis.
Leprosy (Hansen's disease) is a disfiguring disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium leprae bacteria. The disease is spread from person to person through nasal secretions or droplets. Symptoms and signs of leprosy include numbness, loss of temperature sensation, painless ulcers, eye damage, loss of digits, and facial disfigurement. Leprosy is treated with antibiotics and the dosage and length of time of administration depends upon which form of leprosy the patient has.
What Triggers Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disease characterized by flaky, red, or yellowish scales that resemble dandruff. Sometimes, the scales may itch or even crust and ooze.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition. Symptoms and signs include a red, scaling rash on the scalp, face, ears, and torso. Treatment often includes the use of a medicated shampoo and the application of a topical steroid lotion.
Eczema is a general term for many types dermatitis (skin inflammation). Atopic dermatitis is the most common of the many types of eczema. Other types of eczema include: contact eczema, allergic contact eczema, seborrheic eczema, nummular eczema, stasis dermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema.
Celiac disease is a condition in which a person has inflammation of the small intestinal mucosa when exposed to gluten in the diet. Symptoms of celiac disease include bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. Treatment involves following a gluten-free diet. Some individuals may have refractory celiac disease in which they do not respond to a gluten-free diet.
How Long Does Contact Dermatitis Last? Treatment
Contact dermatitis may last for up to four weeks; however, using the following treatment options may help relieve your symptoms faster.
Contact dermatitis is a rash that occurs after exposure to an irritant. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include a red, elevated rash at the site of contact with the irritating substance. Contact dermatitis treatment may involve creams, application of cool water compresses, and applying topical steroids.
How Do You Treat Perioral Dermatitis?
Perioral dermatitis (POD) is a rash that involves the skin around the mouth. The rash of POD is bumpy and scaly in appearance. There may be itching and pain, along with the discharge of clear fluid from the rash.
Atopic Dermatitis vs Psoriasis
Psoriasis and atopic dermatitis are common, long-term skin diseases. Both are noncontagious. Because both the rashes look somewhat similar, the diagnosis may be difficult at the first glance, and a biopsy of the skin remains the last resort. However, certain things that can help differentiate between the two before the doctor orders a biopsy.
How Do You Get Rid of Contact Dermatitis Fast?
For mild contact dermatitis, the following simple home remedies can help get rid of the rash fast.
Is Leprosy (Hansen's Disease) Contagious?
Leprosy is an infection caused by Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy is only mildly contagious and is transmitted via frequent contact with an infected person or animal. The incubation period for leprosy ranges from two to 10 years.
Can You Eat Whole Grain If You Are Gluten Intolerant?
Eating unprocessed whole grains has been demonstrated to offer significant health benefits. Since only a few whole grains contain gluten, you do not have to forego eating all of them if you have a gluten intolerance.
The Best Treatment for Stasis Dermatitis
The most effective way to treat stasis dermatitis is by controlling the disease.
Does Leprosy Turn Your Skin White?
Unlike vitiligo, leprosy does not turn your skin white. However, this highly contagious disease can cause discolored lumps or sores that disfigure the skin.
Is Neurodermatitis an Autoimmune Disease?
Researchers have suggested that there may be a link between neurodermatitis and autoimmune diseases, but the exact cause of the condition is unknown.
How Do You Get Rid of Neurodermatitis?
Treatment of neurodermatitis generally aims to control severe itching, prevent scratching, and address underlying causes. Learn about how to get rid of neurodermatitis.
What Does Dermatitis Herpetiformis Look Like?
Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) or Duhring’s disease looks similar to herpes lesion (a cluster of dew drops over skin) but is not caused by herpes virus. It is characterized by a cluster of red, itchy, bumpy skin rashes that may affect the elbows, knees, buttocks, lower back, and scalp. The rash can also be confused with eczema or acne.
Atopic Dermatitis vs. Eczema
Atopic dermatitis and eczema both refer to skin conditions. Atopic dermatitis is a cause of eczema, which refers to skin conditions that cause inflammation and irritation. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Eczema is not a condition in itself, but a description for a group of skin diseases that cause skin inflammation and irritation.
Atopic Dermatitis vs Contact Dermatitis
The word dermatitis refers to inflammation (redness and swelling) of the skin. Dermatitis includes various skin conditions that cause irritation or rashes on the skin. It generally causes no serious harm to the body and does not mean that the affected person’s skin is infected or unhygienic.
What Can Trigger Contact Dermatitis? Causes and Symptoms
Learn the common triggers, causes, and symptoms of contact dermatitis below.
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Gluten Sensitvity (Intolerance)
- How to Know If Gluten Is Bad for You
- Gluten-Free Diet
- 10 Foods You Should Avoid on a Gluten-free Diet and 9 Foods That Are Safe to Eat
- What Are Gluten-Free Alternatives to Couscous?
- Gluten-Free Diet: A List of 85 Foods You Can Eat
- Is All-Purpose Flour Gluten-Free?
- What Are the First Signs and Symptoms of Being Gluten Intolerant?
- What Is Gluten and Why Is it Bad?
- Is Whiskey Gluten-Free and Safe for Celiac Disease Patients?
- What Rice Isn’t Gluten-Free?
- Is Gluten an Allergen?
- 12 Best Types of Gluten-Free Pasta and Noodles
- Is Quinoa Anti-Inflammatory and 100% Gluten-Free?
- Are Potatoes Gluten-Free?
- Is Tofu Gluten-free?
- Do Potatoes Have Gluten in Them?
- Is Soy Sauce Gluten-Free?
- Is Popcorn Gluten Free and Is It OK for Celiacs?
- Is Oat Milk Gluten-Free?
- 30 Quick and Nutritious Gluten-Free Snacks
- What’s the Best Gluten-Free Beer?
- Is Barley Gluten-Free?
- From A to Z, Which Grains Are Gluten-Free?
- Is Ketchup Gluten-Free?
- Is Rice Gluten-Free or Not?
- Is Mayo Gluten-Free?
- The 14 Best Gluten-Free Breads
- Is Wheatgrass Gluten-Free?
- Is Gluten Good or Bad for You?
- How Do You Know If Oatmeal is Gluten-Free?
- Are Rice Krispies Gluten-Free?
- Is Wine Gluten-Free?
- Is Beer Gluten-Free? Gluten-Free & Gluten-Reduced Beer
- Is Jell-O Gluten-Free?
- Is Farro Gluten-Free?
- Is Cornstarch Gluten-Free?
- Is Spelt Gluten-Free?
- What Does It Mean if Something Is Gluten-Free?
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.