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What is Treated with Sulfur Ointment?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Topical sulfur ointment is used in the management of an assortment of skin conditions including acne and rosacea. Many drug stores carry this product in over-the-counter form and it is also available by prescription. Before starting use, patients should check with a doctor to see if there are any contraindications. This ointment is usually very safe for use and carries few risks for patients when it is applied properly.

Skin irritation as seen in rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis can be managed with sulfur ointment. This product is also used as an acne treatment and to clear blackheads and other blemishes. Finally, it has applications in the treatment of scabies, where treatments are applied several times a day for a period of time recommended by a doctor to kill the invasive mites and eliminate skin irritation and soreness caused by scabies infection.

Concentrations of sulfur ointment vary between 0.5% and 10%, depending on how the product is designed to be used. Some people make their own by blending sulfur with a neutral body cream. Before applying the ointment, people should wash and pat dry their skin to make sure it is clean and hydrated. The ointment may initially be somewhat sticky or gummy, but should absorb quickly and dry after a few minutes.

When people use topical skin creams like sulfur ointment, applying products over them is usually not recommended. Moisturizers and other skin care products will not penetrate, and things like makeup can dry the skin, cake, or become trapped in the pores. The skin should be left clean and clear. If patients are directed to periodically reapply ointment, they should always wash first with warm water and soap to remove residue and dirt before applying another layer. Once the treatment cycle is complete, they can return to a normal skin care regimen.

Sometimes, people have allergic reactions to sulfur ointment, usually as a result of ingredients combined with the ointment. People with a history of allergies are advised to discuss their allergies with a pharmacist to see if one product might be more suitable for their skin than others. People who notice rashes, itching, redness,and other signs of irritation after applying sulfur ointment should wash the ointment off and talk to a doctor. The doctor can prescribe a different medication for treating the skin condition and work with the patient to identify what the patient reacted to, with the goal of avoiding future allergy incidents.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon995663 — On May 18, 2016

I just started using the sulfur ointment. How fast does it work? I've just been on it a week, though.

By anon947095 — On Apr 24, 2014

I have acne on my face. I have used different types of products, but they are not working for me. Someone told me to use aqualsulfur, but I don't know if it works. I am so confused.

By jellies — On Jul 08, 2011

I had a lot of trouble with breakouts as a kid and have some scars as a result. Can sulfur ointments be used as acne scar treatments, too?

By trekker — On Jul 08, 2011

I have tried many different products for acne over the years. I have sensitive skin, too, so it was important to find a treatment that was not going to be too harsh. One of my favorite finds has been De La Cruz sulfur ointment.

I always feel like a get a really deep clean from this product. It can be a little drying if you use it every day, or it can for me at least. I use this ointment before bed a couple nights a week and that does the trick for me.

The ointment feels a little gooey at first, but it isn’t too bad. A little goes a long way, too. You can find it online for a very reasonable price, which is also something I like.

By Matis — On Jul 07, 2011

My oldest son used sulfur ointment for his acne. He tried sulfur in a cream and bar soap as well, but the ointment gave him the best results. He used a formula that had no preservatives, artificial colors, or fragrances.

This was especially nice because a lot of products he tried with fragrances were too hard on his skin. The ointment he used also cut down the healing time for breakouts to a matter of days.

We also noticed a big decrease in the forming of new pimples or blackheads. If you have sensitive skin, sulfur ointment is a good one to try for treating acne. Of the different ones my son tried, there was never as much of a smell as you might typically associate with a sulfur product.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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