What is Dapsone?

Dapsone is part of a class of medications called sulfone antibiotics. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of bacteria as well as decreasing inflammation.

What Does Dapsone Treat?

Dapsone is used topically to treat acne in children, teenagers, and adults. It comes in the form of a gel that is applied to the skin once or twice daily. It may take up to 12 weeks to see the full benefit of dapsone gel.

How to Use Dapsone

Begin by washing the affected area and pat dry with a towel. Spread a pea-sized amount of the gel in a thin layer over the affected area. Gently rub it into the skin. You may see particles in the gel, or it may feel gritty. Be sure to wash your hands after applying the gel.


If you are allergic to any of the sulfonamide-derived medications or any other ingredients of dapsone gel, you should not use this medication. Always speak to your provider about any medications, vitamins, herbal products (especially St. John’s wort), or dietary supplements that you are taking. Tell our dermatologist if:

  • You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • You have hemolytic anemia, glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, or methemoglobinemia
  • You use topical products that contain benzoyl peroxide since this can interact with dapsone and cause your skin or facial hair to temporarily turn yellow or orange.
  • If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, be sure to tell the dentist or surgeon that you are using dapsone.

Side Effects

Common side effects of topical dapsone include:

  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Oily and peeling skin

If these side effects persist or worsen, speak to your doctor. While rare, serious side effects may occur. These include:

  • Swelling of the hands, face, lips, or eyes
  • Rash
  • Numbness, burning or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Yellow or pale skin
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fever
  • Dark brown urine
  • Grey-bluish color to the lips, nails, or inside of your mouth
  • Back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or tiredness

If you experience these side effects, discontinue use, and report it to your doctor immediately.

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