The Dangers of Sulfur Ointment

Sulfur ointment is used to treat acne as well as other skin conditions, however, some people are allergic to it.
Sulfur ointment is used to treat acne as well as other skin conditions, however, some people are allergic to it. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Doctors often prescribe sulfur cream, ointments, bar soaps and lotion to treat various types of skin orders, such as acne, rosacea, scabies and seborrheic dermatitis. The reason sulfur is used to treat skin conditions is because it is an antibacterial agent that stops the growth of bacteria on the skin. Sulfur serves to make the infected skin dry up and slough off so it is a good treatment for acne if you can tolerate it. It unclogs pores that are blocked, reduces skin oiliness and prevents clogged pores from re-occurring in the future. However, some people are allergic to sulfur and will break out in hives after using it.

Side Effects

When using sulfur ointment your skin may become dry and red. This is typical. However, if the condition persists contact your doctor. If you use the sulfur ointment on broken or raw skin this may make the side effects—the dryness and redness—even worse.

Allergic Reaction

If you are allergic to sulfur, you may break out in hives. Your throat, tongue and face can swell. You may experience itching, trouble breathing, dizziness, a sore throat, fever, bruising and bleeding, weakness and yellowing of your skin and eyes. If this happens, contact your doctor or pharmacist right away, advises

Other Possibilities

Other side effects of using sulfur topically including peeling of the skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your skin is already irritated do not apply sulfur ointment to it because it will aggravate the condition. When applying sulfur ointment to areas of your body where the skin is infected or broken or burned, this allows too much medication to be absorbed by your body and can lead to negative side effects. Some sulfur ointments and products can change the color of your skin, resulting in discoloration. The ointment may also stink.


You do not know how you will react to sulfur ointment if you have never used it before. Err on the safe side and consult with your physician before using a product that contains sulfur.

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