Main uses in hair loss: alopecia areata
What is Sulfasalazine?
- Sulfasalazine is a medication which is commonly used in treating inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis but has been shown to be helpful in a proportion of patients with the hair loss conditions called alopecia areata
How is it Sulfasalazine prescribed?
- Your doctor will advise how this is to be used
- Baseline blood tests will be ordered BEFORE you start sulfasalazine (complete blood counts, kidney and liver, folate, B12 levels, urinalysis with microscopy, G6PD)
- Blood tests will be checked every few weeks for a couple of months, then less often afterwards.
Who should not take Sulfasalazine?
- Do not take sulfasalazine if you are allergic to sulfa drugs or aspirin
- Do not take sulfasalazine if you have a disorder known as porphyria
- Do not take sulfasalazine if you are pregnant
Do any medications interact with Sulfasalazine?
- Tell your doctor if you are on any of these medications.
- Imuran, methotrexate, cyclosporine
What are the side effects of Sulfasalazine?
- Nausea and headache (often the earliest side effects and can be treated by lowering the dose)
- Diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite are common (GI side effects are common – taking with food or using enteric coated tablets can reduce these side effects); dyspepsia can be treated with antiacids.
- Increased sensitivity of the skin to the light
- May cause urine & skin to turn dark yellow or orange (this is harmless)
- Aching joints
Less Common or rare:
- Drop in blood counts
- Irritation of the lungs, liver, pancreas
- Lowered platelet counts
- Mood changes, including severe depression
- Men are infertile while on the drug, but it is reversed when the drug is stopped
Serious side effects:
- Bruising of the skin, jaundiced skin and eyes, pale skin
- Difficulty swallowing
Under what situations should I stop Sulfasalazine ?
- Stop the drug if you feel unwell and seek medical attention
- Stop the drug if you develop sore throat, fever, pallor, bruising, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin), abdominal pain as these may be indications of serious problems - get medical attention right away.