Sulfur is a yellow-colored, naturally-occurring mineral. Though the mention of this chemical element reminds one of gunpowder, matches, dyes, and fertilizer, there is much more to this mineral. Due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, it is often referred to as a healing mineral. It was used by the ancient Romans and Chinese for treating wounds and skin diseases since times immemorial. It is used as an active ingredient in most of the medicated soaps and other skin care products. Several skin diseases that are caused due to the action of bacteria and fungi can be treated through topical application of such soaps. Dermatologists often recommend their use for alleviating the symptoms of some skin diseases.
Sulfur and Skin Care
While ordinary perfumed soap bars might be pleasant-smelling, these might not be able to protect you from bacterial and fungal attacks. The use of soaps, creams, or lotions that contain this mineral can prove beneficial in the following cases.
One of the common causes of acne is excessive production of sebum by the sebaceous glands. When skin pores or hair follicles get clogged with sebum and dead skin cells, it gives rise to acne. Since sulfur reduces oiliness and protects the skin from bacteria, it helps in lowering the incidence of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, infected hair follicles, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Sulfur-based soaps are often recommended for individuals affected by rosacea, which is a skin disorder that is characterized by redness around the cheeks, nose, and forehead. Sometimes, the skin around the ears, neck, scalp, and chest might also get affected. The blood vessels under the skin might also become more pronounced or visible. It is believed that rosacea might be caused due to intestinal bacteria or demodex mites. Though there is no cure for rosacea, the symptoms can be controlled to some extent by using medicated soap bars.
Dermatologists also recommend such soaps for scabies. Scabies is a parasitic skin infection caused by microscopic mites. It can spread through person-to-person contact. The symptoms of scabies include severe itching and skin rashes. Sulfur kills these mites, and using the soap speeds up the healing of the scabies rash. However, it would be to best to consult the dermatologist so as to find out about the time duration for which you need to use the soap.
Besides these skin conditions, the use of such soaps might prove beneficial for the treatment of skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, warts, and pityriasis versicolor.
How to Use Sulfur-based Soaps
Some of these soap bars have 10% sulfur content; if your skin is very sensitive, you should buy the milder ones that have about 3% sulfur. It's best to use these soaps, if these have been recommended by a dermatologist. Make sure that you apply it as per the directions. Wet the affected skin with water. Thereafter, wet the soap bar. Work up a lather and apply it only to the affected area and rinse it with water. The soap shouldn't come in contact with your eyes and must not be swallowed. The use of such soaps might cause a mild swelling, softening and peeling of the skin. However, discontinue its use, if you experience a severe allergic reaction. Pregnant women and nursing mothers must refrain from using such soaps.
If you have been asked to use a medicated soap that contains sulfur, make sure that you use it as per the directions given by the manufacturer. If you experience severe side effects, discontinue its use and consult your doctor.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.