Humira (adalimumab) is a prescription brand-name medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat several different conditions, including:

Here are some fast facts on Humira:

  • Active ingredient: adalimumab, which is a biologic
  • Drug class: tumor necrosis factor blocker
  • Drug forms: single-dose pen, single-dose prefilled syringe, single-dose vial of liquid solution; all are given by subcutaneous injection

Like other drugs, Humira can cause side effects. Read on to learn about potential common, mild, and serious side effects. For a general overview of Humira, including details about its uses, see this article.

Humira can cause certain side effects, some of which are more common than others. These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days or weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took Humira in clinical trials:

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.

Mild side effects can occur with Humira use. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Humira’s medication guide.

Mild side effects that have been reported with Humira include:

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days or weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Humira and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.

Humira may cause serious side effects, although they aren’t common. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Humira’s medication guide.

If you develop serious side effects while taking Humira, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects that have been reported, and their symptoms, can include:

  • Nervous system problems, such as multiple sclerosis and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Symptoms can include:
    • dizziness
    • tingling or numbness
    • weakness that affects your arms or legs
    • vision problems
  • Blood cell problems, such as aplastic anemia. Symptoms can include:
    • bruising or bleeding more easily than usual
    • fever that doesn’t go away
    • pallor (skin that looks paler than usual)
  • Heart failure. Symptoms can include:
    • swelling in your ankles or feet
    • sudden weight gain
    • shortness of breath
  • New or worsening psoriasis. Symptoms can include:
    • red, scaly patches on your skin
    • raised bumps on your skin
  • Lupus-like syndrome, also known as drug-induced lupus. Symptoms can include:
    • chest discomfort or pain that doesn’t go away
    • joint pain
    • a rash on your arms or cheeks that gets worse if exposed to sunlight
    • shortness of breath
  • Liver problems.*
  • Reactivation of hepatitis B virus.*
  • Serious infections.*†
  • Cancer.*†
  • Allergic reaction.*

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.
Humira has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Side effect specifics” section below.

Side effects after first dose of Humira

It’s possible to have side effects after your first dose of Humira, such as injection site reactions. These reactions may include itching, pain, or swelling in the area of your Humira injection. It’s also possible to experience other side effects, including serious side effects, after your first dose.

Depending on the condition you’re taking Humira to treat, you may take the drug every week or every other week. It’s possible to experience side effects after these other doses, as well.

If you have questions about what to expect after your first dose of Humira, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Long-term side effects

It’s possible for Humira treatment to cause long-term side effects.

For example, the drug has caused growth of new cancers. It has also caused existing tumors (masses of cancerous tissue) to grow. In fact, Humira has a boxed warning about cancer. For more information, see the “Side effect specifics” section below.

If you’re concerned about long-term side effects from taking Humira, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Humira may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about the drug’s side effects.

When comparing Humira’s benefits and risks, is it worth it to try the drug?

You and your doctor will decide whether it’s worth it for you to try Humira. Your doctor will only prescribe Humira to treat your condition if the possible benefits of the medication outweigh the risks of side effects.

Talk with your doctor about benefits and risks of potential treatments for your condition.

Can using Humira cause weight gain or weight loss?

Neither weight gain nor weight loss were reported as side effects in people taking Humira in clinical trials.

But unintended weight loss may be a symptom of other side effects of Humira, such as an infection. And sudden weight gain may be a symptom of heart failure, which is a rare but serious side effect of taking Humira.

If you’re concerned about your weight while taking Humira, talk with your doctor. They can discuss ways to help maintain a weight that’s healthy for you. If you notice unintended, sudden changes in your weight, call your doctor. This may be a symptom of more serious side effects of Humira.

Is anxiety a side effect of Humira?

No, anxiety isn’t a side effect of Humira. This wasn’t reported as a side effect in clinical trials of the drug. But Humira is used to treat some chronic (long-term) conditions, and having a chronic condition has been linked to anxiety.

If you have questions about anxiety or side effects of Humira, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Does Humira cause depression?

Depression isn’t a known side effect of Humira. It wasn’t reported as a side effect in clinical trials of Humira. Depression could be related to having a chronic condition, such as those that Humira is used to treat.

If you have questions about side effects of Humira, or about depression, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Is hair loss one of Humira’s side effects?

It’s not likely. Hair loss wasn’t a side effect seen during clinical trials of Humira.

There have been reports of hair loss in people taking Humira since the drug was approved. But it’s unclear how often this has occurred or whether Humira was the cause.

If you have questions or concerns about hair loss while using Humira, talk with your doctor. They can suggest ways to treat this side effect. They may have you stop taking Humira and try another medication for your condition.

Learn more about some of the side effects that Humira may cause.

Skin-related side effects

It’s possible to have skin-related side effects from taking Humira. These may include a rash or injection site reactions. Both of these side effects were more common side effects in clinical trials, and were mild in most cases. Rarely, a rash can be a sign of rare but more serious side effects of Humira, such as an allergic reaction.

Injection site reactions happen at or near the site where your Humira dose was injected. Symptoms can include itching, pain, or swelling.

Humira can also cause new or worsening* psoriasis. This is a skin condition that causes symptoms such as red scaly patches of skin, and raised bumps that contain pus. This side effect was not seen in clinical trials, but has been reported since the drug was approved.

* Humira is approved to treat plaque psoriasis in adults.

What you can do

If you experience a rash while taking Humira, call your doctor. They can help determine if it’s a sign of a more serious side effect and how to treat it. They may also suggest ways to help treat this side effect. If the rash is mild, it may also go away on its own, as you continue to take Humira.

To help avoid injection site reactions, try to rotate where you inject your Humira doses. Don’t give injections in places where your skin is hard, bruised, or red.

Injection site reactions usually go away on their own after a few days. But, if you experience a reaction that doesn’t go away or bothers you, talk with your doctor. They can suggest ways to relieve your symptoms. They may also suggest trying a drug other than Humira for your condition.

You should also talk with your doctor if you develop new or worse psoriasis symptoms. Your doctor may have you stop taking Humira if this happens.

Liver problems

In very rare cases, Humira may cause liver problems, including liver damage and sudden liver failure. But it has rarely been reported in people using the drug since it was approved.

Symptoms of liver problems can include:

  • abdominal (belly) pain, especially on your right side
  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • fatigue (lack of energy)

What you can do

Call your doctor right away if you notice any symptoms of liver problems. Sometimes liver problems may require treatment at a hospital. If you do develop liver problems, your doctor may have you stop taking Humira and try a different medication for your condition.

Hepatitis B reactivation

If you’ve previously had an infection called hepatitis B, Humira can make the virus that causes it active again. This can cause symptoms such as:

  • muscle aches
  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
  • reduced appetite or no appetite
  • fatigue (lack of energy)
  • upset stomach
  • dark-colored urine or clay-colored stool

In rare cases, hepatitis B reactivation in people taking drugs such as Humira can be fatal.

Before you begin taking Humira, you’ll take a hepatitis B virus (HBV) test. Your doctor may continue to test you for HBV while you take Humira, and for several months after your last dose if you stop taking the drug.

What you can do

If you develop symptoms of hepatitis B, talk with your doctor right away. They can determine the best way to treat your symptoms, which may involve having you stop taking Humira.

Serious infections

Humira has a boxed warning for serious infections. A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Taking Humira can increase your risk for serious bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, including tuberculosis (TB). This is because the drug affects your immune system, and can lower your body’s ability to fight infections. These infections may require treatment in the hospital and, rarely, can be fatal.

What you can do

Before you start taking Humira, your doctor will test you for TB. If you test positive for TB, it will need treatment before you can safely take Humira.

While taking Humira, your doctor will closely monitor you for symptoms of any infections. They’ll likely have you stop taking Humira if you develop a serious infection.

Cancer

Humira has a boxed warning for cancer. A boxed warning is a serious warning from the FDA. It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Taking Humira may increase your risk for certain types of skin cancer, although this is rare.

Cancers have occurred in people taking Humira, including adolescents and children. These cancers include lymphomas (cancers of the white blood cells).

In particular, a lymphoma called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma has been rarely reported, mostly in young adult and adolescent males* with either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

* Sex and gender exist on spectrums. Use of the term “male” in this article refers to sex assigned at birth.

What you can do

While taking Humira, your doctor will monitor you for new cancers, including lymphoma.

If your skin develops a bump or an open sore that doesn’t heal, call your doctor. This may be a sign of skin cancer caused by Humira. You should also call your doctor if you develop lymphoma symptoms or possible symptoms of other cancers, such as:

  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue (lack of energy)
  • night sweats
  • itching
  • fever
  • chills

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Humira can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • rash
  • itching
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your lips, eyelids, feet, or hands
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What you can do

For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and determine whether you should keep taking Humira. But if your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Below are details on warnings and precautions to keep in mind before you take Humira.

Boxed warnings

This drug has boxed warnings about serious infections and cancer. These are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For more information, see the “Side effect specifics” section above.

Other precautions

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Humira. This drug may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Conditions and factors to consider include:

Active infection. You shouldn’t start taking Humira if you have any kind of infection, unless your doctor approves. Your doctor may want to treat your infection before you take Humira. Make sure to tell your doctor about all conditions you have, including any infections, before starting Humira treatment.

Heart failure. Humira belongs to a group of drugs called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. This type of drug has been reported to cause heart failure or make existing heart failure worse. So if you have heart failure, your doctor will want to closely monitor you while you’re taking Humira.

Liver damage. If you have a history of liver damage or liver disease, make sure to discuss this with your doctor before starting Humira. It’s possible for TNF blockers such as Humira to cause severe liver damage. For this reason, your doctor may monitor your liver function while you’re taking Humira.

Nervous system problems, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Humira can make symptoms of nervous system problems and demyelinating diseases worse. Examples of these types of conditions include MS and seizures. If you have a nervous system problem, be sure to talk with your doctor about whether Humira is the best choice for you.

Hepatitis B. If you’ve had hepatitis B in the past, Humira can cause the virus to become active if you stop taking the drug. Be sure your doctor is aware if you’ve ever had hepatitis B. Before you begin taking Humira, you’ll be tested for hepatitis B. You may continue to have these tests while you take Humira, and for several months after your last dose if you stop taking the drug.

Cancer. Humira can cause cancer, or can cause existing cancerous tumors to get worse. In fact, Humira has a boxed warning for this side effect (see “Side effect specifics” above for details). If you have cancer, talk with your doctor before you begin taking Humira.

Recent vaccination. If you’ve recently received a live vaccine, talk with your doctor about when it’s safe for you to begin taking Humira. (Live vaccines contain a small amount of a weakened live virus or bacteria.) You shouldn’t receive live vaccines while taking Humira. Your doctor may want to make sure you’re up to date on your vaccinations before having you take Humira.

Latex allergy or allergic reaction. You shouldn’t take Humira if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to any of its ingredients, including latex. Some Humira products come with a needle cover that could contain natural rubber latex. If you have a latex allergy, talk with your doctor about other treatments or other forms of Humira that may be better choices for you.

Alcohol use with Humira

There aren’t known interactions between alcohol and taking Humira. But drinking alcohol may worsen some of the conditions Humira is used to treat. These include plaque psoriasis and Crohn’s disease.

If you have questions about drinking alcohol while taking Humira, talk with your doctor.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Humira

You and your doctor should decide whether Humira is the right choice for you to take while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

It isn’t known for sure whether Humira is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. In people who have taken the drug while breastfeeding, no side effects have been reported.

If you have questions about taking Humira while pregnant or breastfeeding, talk with your doctor.

Side effects from Humira aren’t common. And, they’re usually mild when they do occur. Most mild side effects of the drug go away with time and don’t require medical attention.

Humira can rarely cause serious side effects. You should talk with your doctor if you experience symptoms of:

You should also talk with your doctor if you become pregnant while taking Humira.

If you’d like to learn more about Humira, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about side effects from taking the drug.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.