Purple People Syndrome

The Purple People Syndrome is a condition affecting patients that are receiving long-term, high doses of chlorpromazine, a medication that can be prescribed to treat a wide array of health problems. It can be used to relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia and to treat the symptoms of mania in people who have bipolar disorder. Chlorpromazine is also used to treat severe behavior problems such as explosive, aggressive behavior and hyperactivity in children 1 to 12 years of age.
The long-term, high doses (doses of 500 to 1,500 mg over a period of 2 to 3 years) will eventually cause a purple-gray discolouration of sun-exposed parts of the body of a patient, later progressing into a permanent blueish-black colour. Chlorpromazine may induce lens and corneal pigmentary changes which have produced visual impairment such as halos around lights, hazy vision, photophobia, and watering eyes[1].

The Purple People Syndrome is the result of accumulation of a photoactive metabolite of chlorpromazine, in particular aliphatic phenothiazine, which itself was once a first-line therpay for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychoses.

Chlorpromazine is marketed in the United States as Thorazine and elsewhere as Largactil and Megaphen.

Huff et al: Chlorpromazine-induced skin pigmentation with corneal and lens opacities in Cutis - 2014

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