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Aczone (Dapsone)


Updated November 12, 2009

Aczone Basics:

Aczone, the brand name for the drug dapsone, is a relative newcomer to the world of acne medications. It is used to treat acne vulgaris on both the face and the body.

Aczone is used topically, in gel form. It's especially good for inflammatory acne breakouts. Aczone is only available by prescription.

How Aczone Works:

Here's the thing: no one is exactly sure how it works. The thinking is that it helps reduce inflammation, possibly by reducing bacteria that cause pore irritation.

What we do know is, for some people, this treatment works fast. Improvement can sometimes be see in as little as two weeks. But don't be disappointed if this isn't the case for you. It is recommended that it be used for 12 weeks before expecting real improvement.

Interestingly, in clinical trials women saw more improvement than men when using this treatment. Safety and efficacy of this drug have not been evaluated in kids under 12.

Common Usage Directions:

Typically, you'll apply a pea-sized amount over all acne-affected areas twice a day. Massage in gently but completely.

Aczone can be used on the face and neck, as well as chest, back, arms, or wherever acne is a problem. The trick is to apply to the entire area where breakouts are a problem, not just to individual pimples.

Also, make sure your skin is cleansed and dried well before applying.

Possible Side Effects:

Aczone can cause: dryness, peeling, increased oiliness and redness.

The effect Aczone has on a fetus isn't known, so let your doctor know if you're pregnant. Aczone does pass into breast milk. Breastfeeding moms should forgo Aczone until the baby is weaned.

Tell your doctor if you have G6PD deficiency. Oral dapsone can cause hemolytic anemia, and while it's unlikely topical dapsone will have the same effect, you're at greater risk if you have this deficiency. Certain medications like rifampin, anticonvulsants and herbal supplements (St. John's wort) may also increase this risk.

Tips for Using Aczone:

  • Use a gentle, non-medicated cleanser to limit dryness and peeling. If dryness does become a problem, use a moisturizing cream or lotion daily.
  • For safety's sake, tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements you are taking. This includes topical treatments and over-the-counter products.
  • Don't use Aczone with benzoyl peroxide products. When used together, your skin may temporarily turn yellow or orange.
  • Be consistent. Don't skip treatments.
  • Let your doctor know if you have any questions, and keep her posted on any side effects you develop.

More About Aczone from Drugs A-Z


ACZONE Prescribing Information. Irvine, CA: Allergan, Inc; 2008.

Draelos ZD, Carter E, Maloney JM, et al; United States/Canada Dapsone Gel Study Group. "Two randomized studies demonstrate the efficacy and safety of dapsone gel, 5% for the treatment of acne vulgaris." J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;56(3):439.e1.

Lucky AW, Maloney JM, Roberts J, Taylor S, Jones T, Ling M, Garrett S, Dapsone Gel Long-Term Safety Study Group. "Dapsone gel 5% for the treatment of acne vulgaris: safety and efficacy of long-term (1 year) treatment." J Drugs Dermatol. 2007; 6(10):981-987.

Raimer S, Maloney JM, Bourcier M, Wilson D, Papp K, Siegfried E, Garrett S; United States/Canada Dapsone Gel Study Group. "Efficacy and safety of dapsone gel 5% for the treatment of acne vulgaris in adolescents." Cutis. 2008; 81(2):171-178.

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