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What Is Hydroxychloroquine Used For?

Hydroxychloroquine is used for treating rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It is also approved to prevent and treat certain types of malaria in adults and children. Healthcare providers may occasionally prescribe the drug "off-label" for other conditions as well. Possible off-label hydroxychloroquine uses include the treatment of Lyme disease, scleroderma, porphyria cutanea tarda, and drug-induced lupus.

An Overview of Hydroxychloroquine Uses

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate (Plaquenil®) is an anti-malarial medication approved for the following uses:
  • Prevention and treatment of certain types of malaria infections
  • Treatment of lupus (including systemic lupus erythematosus and chronic discoid lupus)
  • Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Using Hydroxychloroquine for Malaria

Malaria is a leading cause of death and disease worldwide, especially in developing countries. The cause of malaria is an infection with parasitic bacteria. Plasmodium is the name for the species of microscopic parasites that cause the disease (see Malaria Causes). There are over 100 species of Plasmodium, but only the four following species infect humans:
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • Plasmodium vivax
  • Plasmodium ovale
  • Plasmodium malariae.
Hydroxychloroquine can prevent only P. falciparum infections (it does not work to prevent the other types) and is only effective for prevention in certain areas of the world. Hydroxychloroquine can be used to treat all four types, although it may need to be combined with another malaria medication in order to be effective.
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Hydroxychloroquine Medication

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