Anais brasileiros de dermatologia

Use of potassium iodide in dermatology: updates on an old drug.

PMID 23793210


Potassium iodide, as a saturated solution, is a valuable drug in the dermatologist's therapeutic arsenal and is useful for the treatment of different diseases due to its immunomodulatory features. However, its prescription has become increasingly less frequent in dermatology practice. Little knowledge about its exact mechanism of action, lack of interest from the pharmaceutical industry, the advent of new drugs, and the toxicity caused by the use of high doses of the drug are some possible explanations for that. Consequently, there are few scientific studies on the pharmacological aspects, dosage and efficacy of this drug. Also, there is no conventional standard on how to manipulate and prescribe the saturated solution of potassium iodide, which leads to unawareness of the exact amount of the salt being delivered in grams to patients. Considering that dosage is directly related to toxicity and the immunomodulatory features of this drug, it is essential to define the amount to be prescribed and to reduce it to a minimum effective dose in order to minimize the risks of intolerance and thus improve treatment adherence. This review is relevant due to the fact that the saturated solution of potassium iodide is often the only therapeutic choice available for the treatment of some infectious, inflammatory and immune-mediated dermatoses, no matter whether the reason is specific indication, failure of a previous therapy or cost-effectiveness.