Drug Information

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Brand Name
Common Name
dapsone topical
How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Dapsone topical gel belongs to the class of medications called anti-acne therapies. It is used to treat acne vulgaris for people 12 years and older.

While it is not clearly understood how dapsone works to treat acne, it has anti-inflammatory activity, which reduces the redness and swelling involved with acne.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

How should I use this medication?

Dapsone topical gel should be applied twice daily to lightly cover the affected areas.

To apply this medication, wash your hands thoroughly. Clean your face with a mild soap and water and pat dry with a soft towel. Apply a pea-sized amount of gel on your fingertip and dot it on the areas being treated. Gently rub it in. Use only enough medication to cover the affected areas lightly. Avoid contact with the eyes, corners of the nose, mouth, or any open sores. When you are finished, wash your hands with soap and water.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Each gram of aqueous gel contains 5% of dapsone (w/w). Nonmedicinal ingredients: carbomer 980, diethylene glycol monoethyl ether (DGME), methylparaben, sodium hydroxide, and purified water.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you are allergic to dapsone or any ingredients of the medication.

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • dry skin
  • redness
  • oily skin
  • peeling

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • severe vomiting
  • signs of anemia (low red blood cells; e.g., dizziness, pale skin, unusual tiredness or weakness, shortness of breath)
  • signs of infection (fever, severe chills, sore throat, mouth ulcers)

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of an allergic reaction (e.g., rash, hives, swelling of the lips or face, difficulty breathing)
  • signs of methemoglobinemia (e.g., headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, grey or bluish skin colour, especially of lips, mouth and nail beds)
  • signs of pancreatitis (e.g., abdominal pain on the upper left side, back pain, nausea, fever, chills, rapid heartbeat, swollen abdomen)
  • thoughts of self-harm

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Blood counts: When taken in the pill form, dapsone can cause decreased numbers of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection) and red blood cells. This is not expected to occur with dapsone topical gel, but if you experience signs of infection (e.g., fever, chills, or sore throat) or anemia (e.g., fatigue, paleness), stop using the medication and contact your doctor immediately.

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD): People who lack the enzyme G6PD may be more at risk of developing anemia. If you have G6PD deficiency, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Other acne treatments: Applying any medication containing benzoyl peroxide at the same time as applying dapsone topical gel can cause the skin to temporarily yellow or orange. The use of other topical acne medications may cause increased irritation to the skin.

Methemoglobinemia: There have been reports of methemoglobinemia in people using this medication. Methemoglobinemia is a condition in which an abnormal level of methemoglobin is produced in the blood, resulting in less oxygen reaching tissues in the body. People with G6PD deficiency and a history of methemoglobinemia should avoid using this medication. If you develop bluish or grey lips, mouth, or nail beds, contact your doctor immediately.

Pancreatitis: When taken in the pill form, dapsone can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). This is not expected to occur with dapsone topical gel, but if you experience symptoms of pancreatitis, such as persistent low-grade fever or abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting, stop using this medication and contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Self-harm: Although rare, there have been reports of people having suicidal thoughts or wanting to hurt themselves while taking this medication. If you experience these side effects or notice them in a family member who is taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately. If you have a history of depression or other mental illness, you should be closely monitored by your doctor for emotional and behaviour changes while taking this medication.

Severe skin reactions: When taken in the pill form, dapsone can cause severe skin reactions. This is not expected to occur with dapsone topical gel, but if you experience symptoms of fever, blistering, redness, or peeling, stop using this medication and contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are using dapsone topical gel, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children less than 12 years old.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between dapsone topical and any of the following:

  • acetaminophen
  • anti-malarial medications (e.g., hydroxychloroquine, mefloquine, primaquine)
  • benzocaine
  • benzoyl peroxide
  • benzydamine
  • celecoxib
  • flutamide
  • hexylresorcinol
  • nitrates (e.g., isosorbide dinitrate, isosorbide mononitrate, nitroglycerin)
  • lidocaine
  • metoclopramide
  • nitrofurantoin
  • phenazopyridine
  • phenobarbital
  • phenytoin
  • pramoxine
  • prilocaine
  • pyrimethamine
  • quinine
  • rifampin
  • sodium nitrite
  • sulfadiazine
  • sulfamethoxazole
  • sulfasalazine
  • tetracaine
  • trimethoprim
  • zopiclone

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use the

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