Main uses in hair loss: lichen planopilaris, frontal fibrosing alopecia, discoid lupus, pseudopelade

Other names: Plaquenil (trade name)


What is hydroxychloroquine?

  • This drug is also referred to under its popular trade name “Plaquenil”
  • Hydroxychloroquine is a type of anti-inflammatory medication used to treat some types of hair loss such as lichen planopilaris and sometimes discoid lupus and frontal fibrosing alopecia.
  • It is classified as an anti malarial pill because certain closely related medications (i.e. chloroquine) are actually used to treat malaria infections in some parts of the world.

Who should not take hydroxychloroquine?

Hydroxychloroquine is not appropriate for everyone. Be sure to speak to your doctor and then your pharmacist if this medication is right for you.

Patients with the following issues may or may not be recommended to take this medication

  • patients allergic to the drug or the family of drugs
  • patients with some types of eye diseases
  • patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • patients with myasthenia gravis
  • patients with G6PD deficiency
  • patients with psychotic illness
  • patients with psoriasis

What is the typical dose of hydroxychloroquine?

Speak to your physician about what dose is right for you. Many patients take a 200 mg tablet twice daily but this dose may not be right for everyone. The amount to take depends on your weight and the activity of your disease. 

What are the side effects of hydroxychloroquine?

Speak to your physician about all possible side effects so you can decide if this medication is right for you. Side effects  include:

  • eye changes, including vision changes (eye exams are essential while on this medication)
  • lowered blood counts
  • nausea, vomiting diarrhea
  • neurological problems, including irritability, psychosis mood swings, headaches,
  • skin color changes
  • worsening of one’s existing psoriasis (if they have psoriasis)
  • allergic reactions

Are any other tests needed when starting hydroxychloroquine?

  • Yes, blood tests may be ordered by your doctor at the start of treatment and then periodically while you are on the drug. 
  • You will be requested to get an eye examination before starting (or soon after starting) and then periodically while on therapy. Eye changes can occur while on hydroxychloroquine so be sure to speak to your physician about all the eye side effects that are possible.

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