January 30, 2015 — The New England Journal of Medicine has published a report linking Aczone, a popular acne gel, with a rare blood disorder known as methemoglobinemia.
Aczone is a topical gel that contains 5% dapsone, an antibiotic that has been on the market for decades. Dapsone is well-known to increase the risk of methemoglobinemia, but this report is the first-known case linked to Aczone.
The case report involves a 19 year-old woman who visited the emergency room with blue lips and fingers, mild headache, and shortness of breath. She had been using a “pea-sized” amount of Aczone for the last seven days, but failed to tell her doctors.
After going through a number of tests, doctors detected dapsone in her urine and diagnosed her with methemoglobinemia.
Methemoglobinemia is a rare but serious blood disorder that can be inherited or acquired as a side effect of certain medications. It causes abnormal levels of the protein methemoglobin, which carries oxygen but is unable to deliver it effectively to body tissues.
Methemoglobinemia symptoms may include:
- Bluish coloring of the skin
- Shortness of breath
- Lack of energy