Treating Acne with Aczone (Dapsone)

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Aczone is the brand name for the acne-fighting medication dapsone, which is only available by prescription. It is used to treat mild to moderate acne vulgaris. It comes in a gel that you apply directly to your skin.  

A woman taking care of her skin
kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

You can use Aczone (dapsone) to treat both facial and body acne. It's especially good for inflammatory acne breakouts but is also somewhat effective at treating non-inflammatory breakouts like blackheads and milia.


Dapsone is an antimicrobial, so it works by reducing the amount of Propionibacteria acnes (the bacteria that cause acne breakouts). So, in this way, it works similarly to topical antibiotics like erythromycin or clindamycin. In fact, Aczone is technically an antibiotic, because the active ingredient in the medication, dapsone, is a sulfone antibiotic.

Aczone also reduces inflammation. So, it can help calm down those big, red zits.

Aczone can be used alone or along with other topical or oral acne medications. This can help your acne clear faster, and give you better results. Your healthcare provider or dermatologist will let you know if this is the best treatment plan for you.

Do be aware, though, if you use Aczone along with benzoyl peroxide it can temporarily turn your skin yellow, orange, or brown. Not to worry, this color can typically be washed away. But you'd hate to be out and about before realizing your acne meds have turned your skin a funky color.

To prevent this problem, make sure each medication is fully absorbed before applying the other. Or, even better, use benzoyl peroxide in the morning and Aczone at night, or vice versa.


Aczone can be used to treat both adult acne and acne in teens and tweens age 12 and older. Interestingly, in clinical trials, women saw more improvement than men when using this treatment, but it's still an effective option for guys.

It's fairly gentle, as far as acne medications go. If topical retinoids (like Retin-A or Differin) are just too much for your skin to handle—making it super dry, red, and peeling—Aczone can be a good alternative. It generally isn't as hard on the skin as topical retinoids can be. 

There are currently no good studies demonstrating the use and safety of Aczone during pregnancy. Therefore, its unclear how it may affect a developing fetus. Let your healthcare provider or dermatologist know if you are pregnant.

There are acne treatment medications available that are a better choice to use while pregnant. Also, don't use Aczone if you're breastfeeding.


Typically, you'll apply a pea-sized amount to acne-affected areas twice a day. Massage in gently, but completely. It'll absorb fairly quickly.

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.

Keep using this medication even if you aren't seeing improvement or if new pimples are still forming. It can take up to 12 full weeks before you see real improvement.

And, like most acne medications, Aczone doesn't work great for everyone. If you use it for 12 weeks without seeing much improvement, let your healthcare provider or dermatologist know. You'll likely be prescribed an additional, or different, acne treatment. 

Side Effects

Aczone can cause dryness, peeling, and redness of the skin. For some people, it can also make the skin more oily.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. Dapsone, when taken orally, can cause hemolytic anemia. It's highly unlikely that the topical medication will have the same effect because your skin can't absorb enough. Still, let your healthcare provider or dermatologist know if you have G6PD deficiency, just to make sure. 

A Word From Verywell

Your healthcare provider or dermatologist will let you know if Aczone is the right treatment choice for your acne. If not, though, remember you have plenty of other acne treatment options too.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Baunach M, Ding L, Willing K, Hertweck C. Bacterial synthesis of unusual sulfonamide and sulfone antibiotics by flavoenzyme-mediated sulfur dioxide capture. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2015;54(45):13279-83. doi:10.1002/anie.201506541

  2. Scheinfeld N. Aczone, a topical gel formulation of the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory dapsone for the treatment of acne. Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2009;10(5):474-81.

  3. Del Rosso JQ, Kircik L, Gallagher CJ. Comparative efficacy and tolerability of dapsone 5% gel in adult versus adolescent females with acne vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2015;8(1):31–37.

  4. Food and Drug Administration. Aczone gel (dapsone) label.

  5. Thiboutot DM, Kircik L, McMichael A, et al. Efficacy, safety, and dermal tolerability of dapsone gel, 7.5% in patients with moderate acne vulgaris: A pooled analysis of two phase 3 trialsJ Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016;9(10):18–27.

  6. Luzzatto L, Nannelli C, Notaro R. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2016;30(2):373-93. doi:10.1016/j.hoc.2015.11.006

Additional Reading

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.