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Sulfur Products for Acne

Sulfur Products for Acne Sulfur Products for Acne


If you're a teenager, you almost certainly have pimples or you're destined to get them. The American Academy of Dermatology, or AAD, reports that the overwhelming majority--some 85 percent--of Americans between 12 and 20 wind up getting acne each year. Although prescription and nonprescription acne-fighting products abound, your dermatologist may recommend you try a sulfur product for your acne.


According to the Mayo Clinic, acne results from an interrelationship between three main factors: the presence of too much sebum oil in the skin, irritation of hair follicle pores from irregular skin cell shedding and too much bacteria buildup. The sebum oil, in combination with dead skin cells, can clog your pores and create whiteheads and blackheads, and bacterial infection causes swollen pimples.


Sulfur products for acne, which technically are antibiotics, help to fight acne-causing bacteria and open up your clogged pores, according to the AAD. Most sulfur products for acne contain the active ingredient sodium sulfacetamide. Manufacturers make both sulfur-based prescription cleansers and lotions for acne, and although some smell like sulfur, many of the newer formulations do not. If you receive a prescription for a sulfur-based product to fight your acne, you should use it according to your doctor's instructions.

Side Effects

Some acne patients develop allergies to sulfur products. If this happens to you, you may get hives, itching or blisters in the treatment area. Other patients have nonallergic reactions such as bad, persistent irritation and unusual weakness or tiredness. If any of these symptoms happen to you, contact your physician immediately. Sulfur products often cause mild skin irritation and peeling, and these can subside after you've used the product for a while.


Researchers believe sulfur products can help improve many cases of acne. For example, a 2010 study conducted by Z. Draelos of Duke University and published in the "Journal of Drugs in Dermatology" looked at a newer version of sodium sulfacetamide-sulfur foam in eight acne patients. The study found that these acne patients experienced a 50 percent reduction in their acne lesions. The patients also reported that the sulfur smell from the foam medication used dissipated quickly.


Sulfur products treat two of the main acne causes: clogged pores and bacterial infection. However, they don't address the third cause, excess skin oil production. Because of this, the AAD says, your dermatologist may recommend you try another form of acne treatment that curbs this excess oil in addition to continuing treatment with sulfur products for acne.

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