Acne treatment Acne treatment

Sulfacetamide for Acne


Sulfacetamide, technically known as sodium sulfacetamide, is a topical antibacterial treatment for acne. A prescription medication, sulfacetamide is available in brands such as Klaron and Ovace, and in generic form. It is provided in foam, lotion, gel and as a solution on pads. Many sulfacetamide medications include sulfur, another topical antibacterial substance.

The Problem

Acne usually results from overactive oil glands in the hair follicles, which leads to excessive oil on the face. Oily skin prevents dead skin cells from sloughing away, which then clog pores. Anaerobic bacteria that cause acne can accumulate in these blocked pores, and the blockages also may become red and swollen. The condition is common in teens and young adults.


Sodium sulfacetamide inhibits the growth of bacteria on the skin. It also helps open clogged pores, which reduces acne-causing bacteria because this type of bacteria cannot survive in an oxygenated environment. The medicine is intended for patients with inflammatory acne ranging from mild to moderately severe.


Before applying sulfacetamide, wash your hands and then gently clean the affected area of your skin and pat dry. Apply a thin layer of the medication to areas with acne. Don't get any sulfacetamide in your eyes, nose or mouth, and do not apply it to broken skin. You shouldn't apply other topical products, including cosmetics, over the medicine unless your doctor says it's all right to do so. Some sulfacetamide products are intended for use as a face wash to be rinsed off immediately afterward.

Time Frame

Using sulfacetamide regularly is essential for obtaining the most benefit. Patients usually are advised to apply sulfacetamide one to three times daily for acne treatment. You may not see improvement for several weeks, but that is common with other types of acne treatment as well, as explained by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Side Effects

The most common side effect associated with sulfacetamide is skin irritation. Acne may become worse before it improves. You may experience some swelling, itching, redness, and feelings of warmth, stinging or burning of the area where you apply sulfacetamide. Certain side effects are rare and may indicate a serious reaction. These include hives, a rash, shortness of breath, facial or throat swelling, fever, joint pain or mouth sores.

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