Active Ingredients

Dapsone – Effect, Application & Risks


Dapsone is an active ingredient from the sulfone group The substance has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Dapsone is primarily administered in tablet form and is used to combat rheumatism , acne , blistering skin diseases, inflammatory skin diseases as well as malaria and leprosy .

What is dapsone?

Dapsone is a drug that has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. The substance belongs to the group of sulfones. Due to its antibacterial effects, it is also classified as an antirheumatic drug . The medicinal substance was first synthesized in Germany in 1908 and patented by IG Farben in 1934.

The white (sometimes yellowish white) powder is often used in tablet form and is used to treat rheumatic diseases. It is also commonly used preventively to treat leprosy, inflammatory skin diseases, malaria and Pneumocystis pneumonia in patients who are HIV positive.

In addition to the term dapsone, the synonyms diphenason , diaminodiphenylsulfone , DDS and dapsone are also used to describe the substance. The chemical molecular formula of the drug is C12-H12-N2-O2-S, Mr, which corresponds to a moral mass of 248.3 g/mol.

While in Europe it is only approved in tablet form, it can also be used as a gel in the USA. Here it is used to treat acne.

Pharmacological action

Dapsone has antibacterial effects against the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae (causes leprosy) and against streptococci . In addition, it acts against parasites (antiparasitic effect), protozoa and plasmodia . Dapsone also inhibits inflammation .

Dapsone acts directly on the folic acid synthesis of bacteria. This results in an antimetabolistic inhibition of folic acid synthesis, which ultimately leads to the killing of the affected bacteria. Since there have been various developments in resistance to the drug since dapsone was first administered, the active ingredient is primarily used in combination therapy. Patients therefore usually also take preparations that contain clofazimine or rifampin .

As the listing of dapsone in the European Regulation (EU) No. 37/2010 shows, the substance may not be used in animals that are processed into food in the European Union. The reason for this listing is that the substance has high maximum residue levels.

Medical Application & Use

Dapsone has a very broad field of application in human medicine due to its broad spectrum of effectiveness. In the European Union, it is only approved for administration in tablet form. There is an indication for the treatment of inflammatory skin diseases, as well as those that form blisters. There is also an indication for chronic rheumatic diseases of the joints (articular rheumatism), malaria, rheumatism, leprosy and Pneumocystis pneumonia (a special pathogen that causes pneumonia in humans).

The medical term “indication” describes that administration for therapeutic purposes is indicated from a medical point of view. To combat Pneumocystis pneumonia, dapsone is primarily used in patients who are HIV positive. In the treatment of leprosy, dapsone is always combined with other drugs.

In the United States of America there is also approval for administration as a gel. This is applied locally to the skin to treat acne vulgaris . Furthermore, other areas of application are recommended in the medical specialist literature, but for which there is no approval yet, so that in practice no administration takes place.

Risks & side effects

As with most drugs, undesirable side effects can also occur when administering preparations containing dapsone . Before each first use, it should therefore be checked whether there is an intolerance or hypersensitivity to dapsone and similar substances. For example, there is a contraindication in the case of an existing hypersensitivity to sulfonamides and severe liver diseases . This means that from a medical point of view, application must be avoided because there is a contraindication.

In addition, special caution is required when taking dapsone if there is a hereditary deficiency of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, anemia , the lips or fingernails turn bluish, skin rashes occur or you are pregnant . It is imperative to stop breastfeeding while breastfeeding .

There are also interactions with omeprazole (drug that inhibits the formation of gastric acid), trimethoprim (antibacterial preparation), rifampicin (tuberculosis drug), pyrimethamine (malaria drug) and ursodeoxycholic acid (preparation for dissolving gallstones ).

If these medications are taken, the doctor treating you must be informed immediately. During therapy with dapsone, headaches , stomach problems or nausea can often occur (in 1 to 10 patients in 1000) .

In rare cases, bluish discoloration of the skin and anemia (lack of protein in the blood) occur. Rare means that it affects 1 to 10 users in 10,000. Dapsone syndrome can develop, especially in poorly nourished patients.

Depletion of white blood cells ( agranulocytosis ) has occurred very rarely . Rare means less than 1 patient in 10,000. If side effects occur, the doctor treating you must be informed immediately. The instructions should be strictly followed.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.