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What is hydroxyurea?

Hydroxyurea (also called Hydrea®) is used to treat cancer. It is available as a 200 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg, and 500 mg capsule taken by mouth. It is also available as a 100 mg/ml liquid suspension made by the pharmacy.

Possible side effects of hydroxyurea


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash and itching
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling drowsy

Later (usually more than a day after treatment starts)

  • Low blood counts
  • Constipation
  • Sores in mouth and on lips
  • Pain or problems with urinating
  • Feeling confused or dizzy and having hallucinations
  • Changes in kidney function
  • Changes in liver function
  • Darkening of the skin and nails
  • Skin ulcers

These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to the doctor or nurse.

In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist at 595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 once the call is connected.

Special instructions for hydroxyurea

  • Taking hydroxyurea at bedtime may decrease nausea and drowsy feeling that can be caused by this medicine. These side effects should decrease after a few days.
  • Call the doctor right away if you have a fever while taking hydroxyurea.
  • You should drink plenty of fluid while taking hydroxyurea. The doctor or nurse will tell you how much fluid to drink.
  • If the liquid suspension is made by the pharmacy, keep it in the refrigerator. Be sure to discard it once the date on the bottle expires.
  • If the hydroxyurea capsules are too hard to swallow, you can open them and empty the contents into a glass of water using the safe handling instructions below. You must drink the whole glass of water right away. You can also sprinkle the contents of the capsule on food right before eating the food. All of the food must be eaten so you will receive the entire dose.

Safe handling of hydroxyurea

All chemotherapy drugs taken by mouth can pose a health hazard to caregivers and patients. You should be careful when handling this medicine and try to keep the drug from touching the skin. Taking precautions will ensure that both the patient and the caregiver are protected as well as possible.

  • Prepare a clean area where the drug can be handled safely (away from areas where food is prepared, out of the reach of children, and out from under any air vents or fans).
  • We suggest you or the caregiver wear gloves while handling this medicine. Wash your hands right away if your skin comes in contact with the medicine.
  • Completely clean up any spills in the area where the medicine is prepared.
  • For the liquid, St. Jude will provide enough oral syringes for each dose. Use each oral syringe only one (1) time and then discard it in the trash. Do not try to wash and reuse the syringes.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).