Lupus Erythematosus Treatment: Hydroxychloroquine

Lupus Erythematosus is a rare immune system disease that may affect the patient's skin or may be systemic. To date, there are no known treatments that cure this condition, but it may be kept under control with various types of medication. Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial medication, but may also be used in patients with lupus, as it is effective in removing inflammation and protecting against UV rays.


Hydroxychloroquine is primarily used in the prevention, treatment and management of malaria. However, it may also be used in conditions such as:

  • Lupus erythematosus
  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatic disorders
  • Lyme disease

The drug will act as an anti-inflammatory agent. The treatment will be prescribed based on the diagnosis of the patient. Typically, rheumatoid diseases will require the highest dosage of Hydroxychloroquine.

Hydroxychloroquine for Lupus Erythematosus

Hydroxychloroquine was used in patients with lupus starting from the early 1950s. Lupus is a condition that may manifest through the inflammation of joints or other tissues in the body. Hydroxychloroquine can reduce inflammation and may also reduce light sensitivity, which is also a common symptom in patients with malaria. Other possible effects of Hydroxychloroquine on patients with lupus erythematosus may include:

  • Reduce hair loss
  • Oral and nasal lesions
  • Joint pain
  • Reduce fatigue

The drug may be used in patients that are in remission, to prevent relapse. The typical dosage is per body weight, but the dose should not be higher than 400 milligrams, administered twice per day.

Hydroxychloroquine Side Effects

Hydroxychloroquine may also be associated with a number of side effects such as:

  • Stomach distress and vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Migraines
  • Anemia

If administered for a longer period of time, the treatment may cause:

  • Vision problems
  • Cataracts
  • Discoloration of skin
  • Acne
  • Discoloration of hair
  • Reduced reflexes
  • Liver damage or even failure
  • Skin rashes and flaking
  • Abnormal blood test results

Periodic eye exams are recommended to patients that are under a longer treatment with Hydroxychloroquine, as the treatment may affect the vision in the long run. However, if any abnormalities are noticed during an eye exam, the discontinuation of the treatment will reverse the condition.

Interactions with Other Drugs and Contraindications

Hydroxychloroquine may interact with liver disease medication such as Tagamot and Lanoxin. When administered in patients with psoriasis and porphyria, Hydroxychloroquine can worsen these conditions. Children are more sensitive to Hydroxychloroquine and should get a lower dosage. Lactating mothers should avoid the treatment, as the compound will be secreted in the breast milk and it may be dangerous for infants.

Overdose Symptoms

Overdose with Hydroxychloroquine may lead to vision problems, heart convulsions (even heart failure) and severe diarrhea and vomiting. The patient should discontinue the treatment and consult the doctor to reduce the prescribed dose or get a different course of treatment for lupus.

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