Dapsone for acne: Still in use after half a century!

Tamara Searle, Firas Al-Niaimi, Faisal R. Ali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Sixty years ago, Ross discussed the use of oral dapsone in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Ross was fundamental in demonstrating the importance of this medication in dermatology. Following this, topical formulations have been used for the treatment of acne vulgaris which has not responded to traditional therapies. We explore the impact that the discovery of dapsone has had on subsequent research and clinical practice and explore the typical doses and side effects of this often sidelined therapy. Methods: We conducted a review of the literature on the use of dapsone for acne using key terms “acne vulgaris,” “dapsone,” “isotretinoin,” “systemic,” “topical” searching databases such as MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed. Only articles in English were chosen. The level of evidence was evaluated and selected accordingly listing the studies with the highest level of evidence first using the Oxford Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine 2011 guidance. Results: Oral dapsone and topical dapsone have been used in acne vulgaris and acne fulminans. Systemic dapsone seems to be less effective than other treatment options, and further research is required to examine the use of the topical formulation for acne vulgaris compared with alternative treatments. Conclusion: Dermatologists may wish to consider the use of this long-established medication for the treatment of acne vulgaris. With careful monitoring, oral dapsone is an important alternative therapy where isotretinoin is contraindicated or not tolerated.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cosmetic Dermatology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)2036-2039
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • acne vulgaris
  • dapsone
  • isotretinoin
  • systemic
  • topical


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