Leflunomide and Skin Reactions: What to Watch Out For

Leflunomide and Skin Reactions: What to Watch Out For

Introduction to Leflunomide and Its Uses

Leflunomide is a medication commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects the joints. It works by suppressing the immune system, which helps to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain in the affected areas. While leflunomide can be quite effective in managing rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, it's important to be aware of the potential side effects, particularly when it comes to skin reactions. In this article, we'll discuss some of the more common skin reactions associated with leflunomide and what you should watch out for.

Common Skin Reactions Associated with Leflunomide

As with any medication, leflunomide can cause a variety of side effects, and skin reactions are among the most common. Some of the more frequently reported skin reactions include:


Developing a rash while taking leflunomide is a relatively common occurrence. These rashes can take on various appearances and may be accompanied by itching, burning, or stinging sensations. In most cases, the rash is mild and will resolve on its own without any intervention. However, if the rash becomes severe, spreads rapidly, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Dry Skin

Leflunomide can also cause your skin to become dry and potentially itchy. This is usually a benign side effect that can be managed with regular moisturizing and proper skin care. If you find that your skin is excessively dry or irritated, try using a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer and avoid using harsh soaps or skincare products that may exacerbate the issue.

Eczema Flare-ups

If you have a history of eczema, it's possible that leflunomide may trigger a flare-up. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes red, itchy, and scaly patches on the skin. If you notice an eczema flare-up while taking leflunomide, consult your doctor for advice on how to manage the situation. They may recommend adjusting your medication or prescribing a topical steroid to help control the symptoms.

When to Contact Your Doctor

While most skin reactions associated with leflunomide are relatively mild and can be managed at home, there are some instances where it's important to contact your doctor. These include:

  • Severe or rapidly spreading rashes
  • Rashes accompanied by fever, difficulty breathing, or other concerning symptoms
  • Eczema flare-ups that do not respond to over-the-counter treatments
  • Signs of infection, such as pus, warmth, or red streaks near the affected area

It's always better to err on the side of caution and consult your doctor if you're unsure about whether your skin reaction warrants medical attention.

Preventing and Managing Skin Reactions

While it's not always possible to prevent skin reactions entirely, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk and manage any reactions that do occur. Some tips for preventing and managing skin reactions while taking leflunomide include:

  • Using gentle, fragrance-free skincare products
  • Maintaining a consistent skincare routine, including regular moisturizing
  • Avoiding harsh or abrasive exfoliants
  • Wearing loose, breathable clothing made from natural fibers
  • Protecting your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen and seeking shade when necessary

By taking these precautions, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing skin reactions while taking leflunomide.


Leflunomide can be an effective treatment option for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, but it's important to be aware of the potential skin reactions that may occur. By staying informed and vigilant, you can help to minimize your risk and manage any reactions that do arise. As always, if you have concerns about your medication or any side effects you're experiencing, it's important to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.