The FDA has approved a new topical medication for acne: dapsone gel.
Dapsone is an antibiotic taken orally for the treatment of leprosy and for inflammatory skin diseases such as dermatitis herpetiformis.
Dapsone had also been used in an oral form to treat acne, but had potentially dangerous side effects, especially for a select group of people who lack an enzyme called G6PD. For these people, oral dapsone can cause a dangerous drop in their red blood cells.
Topical dapsone gel, however, is not significantly absorbed: less than 1% is absorbed through the skin. As such, it appears to be safe. The FDA is still investigating if dapsone gel is safe for people who lack the G6PD enzyme.
In studies comparing topical dapsone 5% gel to a placebo, the dapsone significantly reduced acne in just 4 weeks and results lasted for least 2 months.
Oral dapsone is an old drug, but this new topical formulation brings one more treatment to fight acne. It appears to be safe and effective and will likely be available later this year.