Diphencyprone (DPCP)

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Diphencyprone (DPCP) is a type of medicine used to treat skin conditions with contact immunotherapy. Diphencyprone is most commonly used to treat a condition called alopecia areata.

This drug is also known as diphenylcyclopropenone. The drug is produced within acetone – which must be stored in air-tight containers to keep it away from sun exposure or sources of heat. Keep it out of the reach of children. You can store the drugs for about 6 months.

What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disorder that causes unpredictable hair loss. In most cases, hair falls out in small patches around the size of a quarter. For most people, the hair loss is nothing more than a few patches – although in some cases it can be more extreme.

Sometimes, alopecia areata can cause loss of all hair on the scalp (alopecia totalis). In more extreme cases, it can lead to loss of hair throughout the body (alopecia universalis).

Alopecia areata can affect anyone of any age and gender, although most cases occur before the age of 30.

How Diphencyprone (DPCP) Works 

Application of diphenylcyclopropenone to the skin results in allergic contact dermatitis – red rashes and itching caused by direct contact with substances or allergic reactions. The rash is not contagious or life-threatening, but it can make you feel uncomfortable.

Many substances can cause allergic contact dermatitis reactions, including soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, and plants.

In terms of treatment for allergic contact dermatitis, you need to identify and avoid the cause of the reaction. If you can avoid such substances, the rash will usually disappear in two to four weeks. You can try to soothe your skin with cold and warm compresses, anti-itch creams, and other self-care measures.

In areas affected by alopecia areata, diphencyprone works by directing an autoimmune attack on the hair follicles, thus allowing the growth of hair.

Dosing Considerations for Diphencyprone (DPCP)

Follow the dosage and instructions for diphencyprone as directed by your doctor. He or she may recommend:

  • During your first consultation visit, it may involve a sensitization procedure – in which a high concentration of diphencyprone will be applied to a small portion of hair loss on the scalp and left for 24 hours.
  • After that, diphencyprone should be removed by wiping the area in the bathroom. The area where the diphencyprone is applied may become itchy or blistered. However, the reaction will disappear in 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Your doctor will see your child’s response to diphencyprone after 1 to 2 weeks of use. If there is an eczema reaction – usually characterized by redness and itching – your child can start treatment with diphencyprone.
  • Diphencyprone is usually used once a week and may be continued until the hair grows back. Diphencyprone is used in different concentrations and may increase slowly over time.
  • It is advisable to stop using diphencyprone in the affected area for 24 hours. However, if the reaction cannot be tolerated and causes severe itching, burning or blistering – diphencyprone can be removed after at least 4 hours to treat the itching for 24 to 48 hours.
  • It is recommended that you cover your head with a hat or cloth to protect it from sun exposure after the application of diphencyprone. This is done to prevent diphencyprone from being degraded by sunlight. 

Guidelines for Diphencyprone (DPCP)

Initial diphencyprone sensitization is required for treatment to work optimally. Your healthcare provider may perform a small diphencyprone test using high concentration of about 2% and leave it for 2 to 3 days to induce contact allergic dermatitis.

Diphencyprone can be applied with a lower concentration to the affected area once a week, using up to 1 ml each application.

The solution should remain on the skin for 6 to 24 hours or as directed by your doctor. The area must be physically covered for the first 24 hours, as this drug can be degraded by sun exposure.

Special care is required to prevent this drug from affecting other areas of the body. Be sure to wear gloves for every application of diphencyprone – as it can put you at risk of developing contact allergic dermatitis.

Indications for Diphencyprone (DPCP)

Diphencyprone can help treat recalcitrant viral warts.  One study reported a success rate of diphencyprone reaching 88% in cleaning palmoplantar warts with 0.1% diphencyprone and salicylic acid 15% in white soft paraffin.

Salicylic acid reduces the build-up of crust over warts, thus allowing increased absorption of diphencyprone.

Diphencyprone is also used to treat extensive or locally developed metastatic melanoma of the skin that is unsuitable for other therapies.

In one case, out of seven patients treated with diphencyprone showed a complete response to melanoma in four cases and a partial response in three cases. Treatment with diphencyprone was well tolerated by all patients.

Warnings for Diphencyprone (DPCP)

Be sure to pay attention to the warnings of diphencyprone’s application for children and pregnant women. Two studies on contact immunotherapy in children with alopecia areata disorder reported response rates of 33% and 32%.

There is no data on the safety of contact immunotherapy during pregnancy. Diphencyprone should not be used in pregnant women or women planning to get pregnant.

Side Effects of Diphencyprone (DPCP)

Diphencyprone can risk causing allergic contact dermatitis. A mild reaction with redness and itching usually lasts 24 to 48 hours. Some patients may experience side effects, such as itching, burning, blistering, or swelling in the treated area.

Due to its application on the scalp, diphencyprone reaction may require you to wear a wig or uncomfortable headwear. Swollen lymph nodes may be visible behind the ear. These side effects usually resolve after treatment is stopped.

The use of diphencyprone in very low concentrations is often preferred to reduce the severity of contact allergic dermatitis, for example 0.001%. The concentration will increase gradually over time, for example, 0.01%, 0.1%, 0.2%, 0.5%, 1% and 2%.

Other possible side effects of diphencyprone may include:

  • Urticaria or hives are raised or itchy lesions on the skin that occur for 10 to 60 minutes at the site of skin or mucosal contact with the allergen. Contact urticaria is a form of acute urticaria that may last for 6 weeks.
  • Autoeczematization is an acute skin reaction to a variety of stimuli, including infectious and inflammatory skin conditions. Symptoms of itching are often associated with immune response. 
  • Similar reactions to erythema multiforme – an acute skin condition that resolves on its own and sometimes recurs. This condition is considered a type IV hypersensitivity reaction associated with certain infections, medications, and various other triggering factors.
  • Hyperpigmentation (dark patches on the skin), hypopigmentation (skin tone in certain areas is lighter), and vitiligo (skin color fading), which may occur permanently.

Contact your doctor or pharmacist through Smarter Health to find out more about the recommended dosage of diphencyprone. Smarter Health allows you to access health services whenever you need them.

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