What is Dapsone?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Dapsone is a sulfa drug a doctor may prescribe for the treatment of skin conditions and certain other medical issues. This antibiotic's method of action is not fully understood, and in addition to being useful against bacterial infections, it can also fight autoimmune reactions. Manufacturers produce this drug in the form of tablets taken by mouth and a doctor may use it as part of a combination drug regimen for a resistant infection that does not respond to individual drugs.

Patients with Hansen's disease, certain skin infections, acne, malaria, and some forms of pneumonia can benefit from dapsone therapy. For skin conditions, the doctor may prescribe a compounded cream, allowing the patient to apply the drug directly to the site rather than taking an oral medication. It is important to complete a course of therapy with the drug, even if the patient starts to feel better before the medication runs out.

The most common dapsone side effect is an upset stomach. Taking the medication with bland food or milk can help reduce the chances of developing nausea or vomiting. Patients may also find that adjusting the timing of the dose helps; taking the drug first thing in the morning, for example, may be more likely to induce stomach distress. Patients who experience persistent diarrhea or vomiting should talk to a doctor, as this may indicate poor tolerance of the medication.


Patients on dapsone can also experience side effects like fever, skin discoloration, bruising, and sore throat. These symptoms can be a sign of bad reactions to the drug and it is important to discuss them with a doctor. The doctor can examine the patient and determine if the patient's drug regimen requires adjustment to address the bad reaction. Dapsone can also interact negatively with other drugs, and it should not be used in patients with a history of bad reactions to other sulfa drugs, as they can react to dapsone as well.

When a doctor prescribes multidrug therapy, it is important to pay attention to the dosing instructions and follow them closely. If a patient is taking any other medications, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal preparations, these should be brought up during the consultation. It is possible one or more of these may conflict, putting the patient at risk. This medication also can be dangerous during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If a patient becomes pregnant while taking it, she should discuss her options with a doctor.


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