Does Sertraline cause eczema?(3 things to do)

In this article, we will explore eczema associated with Sertraline – a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). We will also discuss some research studies and what you should do if this side effect occurs.

Does Sertraline cause eczema?

Sertraline (also Zoloft) may cause eczema in some individuals. While this side effect is relatively rare and reported by only a small number of individuals, it can be quite distressing and may exacerbate mental health disorders like depression. 

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin disorder characterized by scaly and itchy rashes (pruritus) (3). This disorder may be precipitated by antidepressant medications such as Sertraline.

The exact cause of Sertraline-induced eczema is not fully understood but it is likely related to the drug’s mechanism of action. The incidence of this side effect appears to be higher in individuals with pre-existing skin conditions and those taking higher doses of the medication.

In some cases, eczema may not be directly associated with the antidepressant itself, and individual-specific factors such as allergies may contribute to this side effect.

If you are taking Sertraline and are experiencing eczema, it is important to promptly reach out to your healthcare provider.

What does research suggest?

While there is limited research on eczema associated with Sertraline, studies have established a connection between the use of antidepressants, particularly SSRIs, and eczema. 

Research indicates that the mechanism behind this side effect may be directly linked to Serotonin levels and activity in the skin. Sertraline functions by increasing the availability of serotonin, which can influence dermatologic conditions like eczema (5).

A recent study has linked eczema to the HTR7 and TRPA1 receptors in the skin. Activation of these receptors by serotonin mediates some symptoms associated with eczema such as the serotonergic itch, and inflammation of the skin (6).

Some studies have also suggested that some individuals may have pre-existing skin conditions or a genetic predisposition to developing eczema making them more susceptible to developing eczema as a side effect of Sertraline (1,6,7).

What factors can contribute to Sertraline-induced eczema?

Several factors can potentially precipitate the development of eczema as a side effect of Sertraline. These factors include (1,5,6,7):

  • Individual sensitivity – Every individual responds differently to medications, including Sertraline. Some individuals may be more prone to developing skin reactions such as eczema when taking Sertraline. Individual sensitivity is greatly influenced by an individual’s genetic makeup.
  • Dose and duration – Higher doses of Sertraline may precipitate skin-related side effects, including eczema. Additionally, using Sertraline for the long term increases the likelihood of developing eczema.
  • Allergic reactions – An allergic reaction to the medication or an inactive ingredient in the medication can trigger eczema in some individuals.
  • Underlying skin conditions – Individuals with a history of skin conditions may be more susceptible to experiencing skin-related side effects when taking Sertraline.
  • Interaction with other medications – Drug interactions can sometimes lead to unexpected side effects such as eczema. If a person is taking Sertraline alongside other serotonergic drugs, there is a high likelihood of experiencing side effects such as eczema.
  • Stress and mental health disorders – Since Sertraline is often prescribed in the management of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, the stress associated with these conditions could indirectly contribute to eczema.

What to do if Sertraline causes eczema?

If Sertraline is suspected of causing eczema, it’s crucial to discuss it with your healthcare provider. Typically, your doctor may consider discontinuing the medication to alleviate symptoms. When discontinuing this medication, it is essential to do so under your doctor’s guidance. 

In other cases, your doctor might consider reducing the dosage of the medication or suggest switching to a different medication, such as escitalopram, to see if that will help alleviate skin-related symptoms such as itching.

However, in specific situations, your doctor may prescribe other treatments, such as corticosteroid ointments or interventions, to manage eczema

In rare situations, Sertraline may cause eczema and other dermatological side effects like acne, pruritus, maculopapular rash, cutaneous vasculitis, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome (1). If you experience these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Take home:

This article has covered Sertraline-induced eczema, exploring both the potential mechanisms behind this side effect and strategies for its management when it arises.

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