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How does sulfur work in acne, rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis ?

Sulfur is keratolytic (unclog skin pores), antifungal, and antibacterial activity. Accumulation of dry keratin on the skin surface and the openings of skin pores are the primary cause of blackheads, whiteheads, and future acne breakouts. When applied to the skin, sulfur interacts with cysteine to form hydrogen sulfide that can dissolve excessive keratin, accumulating in skin oil glands and on the skin's surface. Sulfur was also found to inhibit the overgrowth of P. acnes and some Streptococci and Staphylococcus aureus.

How does sulfur work in Rosacea?

Sulfur has an inhibitory effect on Demodex mites, which explains its impact on Rosacea. One study compared a 10% sulfur cream to oral antibiotics (tetracycline). This study showed that sulfur cream significantly reduced Rosacea's inflammatory components more than oral antibiotic treatment. The relapse rate within six months was similar for both treatments.

How does sulfur work in Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Trials evaluating the effectiveness of sulfur in seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, and pityriasis Versicolor were very effective. Adverse events were minimal and included a mild burning sensation and dry skin.

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More info on sulfur for acne and Rosacea
More information on sulfur for seborrheic dermatitis
More information on fungal acne


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  2. Sulfur. In: AHFS Drug Information. Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharamacists, Inc; 2003: 3426-3428.
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  12. Leyden JJ, et al. Effects of sulfur and salicylic acid in a shampoo base in dandruff treatment: a double-blind study using corneocyte counts and clinical grading. Cutis 1987; 39: 557-561.

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