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Methotrexate is a medication used for the treatment of:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

This condition is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis. It is caused when the immune system is not working properly. Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain and swelling in the wrist and small joints of the hand and feet. Treatment for this condition can stop joint pain and swelling.

  • Juvenile polyarticular idiopathic arthritis

This is most common in children under the age of 16. This can cause persistent joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Some children may experience symptoms for only a few months, while others have symptoms for the rest of their lives.

  • Severe forms of psoriatic arthritis

This is a form of arthritis that affects some people who have psoriasis. Most people develop psoriasis first and are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. The joint problems can sometimes begin before skin lesions appear.

  • Crohn’s disease

This type of condition is inflammatory bowel disease. It causes inflammation of your digestive tract which can lead to abdominal pain, fatigue, and severe diarrhea. It may also cause malnutrition and weight loss. Inflammation caused by this disease can involve different areas of the digestive tract in different people.

  • Severe psoriasis

Psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful. This is a chronic disease that often comes and goes. With this medication, you can manage symptoms such as:

  • Small scaling spots
  • Dry and cracked skin that may bleed
  • Burning, itching, or soreness
  • Swollen and stiff joints
  • Red patches of skin covered with thick and silvery scales

This medication may as well be used in a high dose to treat various types of cancer such as:

  • Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Choriocarcinoma
  • Breast, lung, bladder, and cervical cancer

Methotrexate belongs to the class of medications called antimetabolites. This drug is in a sterile, preservative-free, and unbuffered solution in a pre-filled syringe. This is for a single subcutaneous injection. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this medication.

How does Methotrexate work?

In rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis:

Methotrexate works by slowing down the making of cells in the immune system that cause the inflammation of the joints. In arthritis, this drug is referred to as a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). It suppresses the disease process. This medication is not a painkiller and this can take up to 12 weeks to start working.

In Crohn’s disease:

Methotrexate works by slowing down the production of cells in the immune system. It is the cells that cause inflammation in the bowel. This can take up to 12 weeks before it takes an effect.  

In psoriasis:

This drug works by slowing down the excessive production of skin cells that causes skin scaling. It also slows down the raised plaques in this condition. This can take up to 12 weeks before you start to notice the difference.

In cancers:

Methotrexate is a form of chemotherapy that works by preventing cancer cells from dividing and multiplying. It kills cancer cells and stops cancer from growing. This drug can also affect normal and healthy cells. It is particularly those that divide rapidly such as the cells lining the mouth and gut. It may also be in the bone marrow where blood cells are made.

How to use Methotrexate?

The recommended dosage will depend on your medical condition, age, and response to the treatment. You must take this medication exactly as it is prescribed. You should not take more or less or more often than it is given by your doctor. For the best benefit from this product, take it regularly. Do not stop taking this medication without the consent of your doctor. It may cause another complication or may worsen your current condition.

Check it visually for particles or discoloration before using this product. If either is present, do not use the liquid. Clean the injection with rubbing alcohol before injecting each dose. This is given by injection usually once a week. The drug is given into a layer of fat between the skin and muscle. Remember to take it at the same time and in the same way every day.

What are the side effects of Methotrexate?

Common side effects:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Mouth sores
  • Indigestion
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Rash
  • Liver function test abnormalities
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Hair loss
  • Low platelet count
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pain
  • Joint pain

Call your doctor if you have serious side effects such as:

  • Unusual bleeding
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Skin reactions (redness, rash, swelling, peeling skin, and blisters)
  • Infections (sore throat, cough, mouth sores, and chills)

Get emergency help if you have any signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Hives or itching
  • Trouble or difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your lips, face, throat, or tongue

Warnings and Precautions

  • While having this treatment, limit alcoholic beverages.
  • You should not share this or any of your medication with others even if they have the same symptoms as yours.
  • This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive or do any activities that need alertness.
  • If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding women consult your doctor first.
  • If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and follow your regular schedule. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose.
  • Call for medical help if you have any symptoms of an overdose.
  • Before using this medication, let your doctor know if you have a medical history of lung or kidney disease, suppressed immune system, and liver disease.
  • This should not be used in people who are allergic to it.
  • Keep this drug far from heat and moisture as well as from the reach of children.