Found on the head of matches and historically known as brimstone, sulfur is a natural mineral used to treat a wide variety of skin problems such as dermatitis and rosacea. Sulfur has a very distinct odor that is likened to rotten eggs. Fortunately, most skin care products containing sulfur add other ingredients to reduce sulfur’s odor. Sulfur is best used to treat mild to moderate blackheads, whiteheads, and red pimples. Sulfur may not be as effective on severe acne but is effective on mild to moderate acne lesions
How Does Sulfur Work?
Sulfur works to dry out the surface of the skin. Sulfur first absorbs excess oil, then dries out dead skin cells to unclog pores. Sulfur works well on its own, especially as a spot treatment, but works even better when used in conjunction with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Sulfur's antimicrobial properties help to keep acne in check, making it a preventative as well.
Where Is Sulfur Found?
Sulfur is found in acne treatment products available over the counter and by prescription.
Are There Any Precautions?
Since sulfur dries the skin, it's best to avoid using it with other drying agents like soaps or products containing alcohol that can further dry out the skin and cause irritation.
Although there is not enough data to know how sulfur effects pregnancy or breast milk, it's best to use caution and speak with your doctor before using products containing sulfur.
Are There Any Side Effects?
What Else Should You Know?
Avoid using sulfur on already irritated skin. Sunburn, windburn or other chapped skin can be made worse if sulfur is applied. Wait until skin conditions clear before applying sulfur or sulfur-based products. Be sure to test products to see if their odor is tolerable for you. You'll be putting it on your face, so consider the smell.
Can Sulfur Help With Acne Scars?
In theory, because sulfur dries up and removes dead skin cells, it could work to reduce the appearance of scars as well. For this result, it's best to use sulfur in conjunction with other acne treatments since it may not be effective on its own.
Is Sulfur Recommended for All Skin Types?
Yes. However, as with all skin care products testing it first to make sure you aren't overly sensitive is recommended. Avoid using sulfur on your skin if it's already irritated or if you're suffering from any skin conditions like rosacea.
How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Sulfur can take up to three months before results are evident so be patient or combine sulfur with another treatment like benzoyl peroxide for faster results. If you don't see results after three months, talk to your doctor about prescription medication.
Can I Use Sulfur While I'm Pregnant or Nursing?
Yes, you can! Topical sulfur-based products have shown no adverse effects when used by women who are pregnant or nursing. Be sure to consult with your doctor about your individual situation.
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