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.