Sulphur is an antibacterial agent that can be a potent skin irritant and sensitizer. Sulfur also has a high pH, which can dry out your skin and encourage bacteria to grow. Try other ingredients first before you use sulfur, it should be a last resort. There are too many negatives that outweigh the positives.
Sulphur and Rosacea
In a double-blind study, 103 rosacea patients applied a sodium sufacetamide (10%) and sulfur (5%) lotion twice a day for 8 weeks. The control group applied the same lotion without sulfur. By week 4 there was ‘significant improvement’ in inflammatory lesions and severity of facial redness in those that used the sulfur lotion, which only got better with time (8 weeks).
Efficacy was evaluated by counting inflammatory lesions, assessing the severity of facial redness, and by both a physician’s and a subject’s global evaluation. A product satisfaction questionnaire was also completed by all patients.
The most common adverse experiences were application site reactions which decreased in frequency over time. This formulation of topical sodium sulfacetamide (10%) and sulfur (5%) lotion was effective in reducing the inflammatory lesions and erythema of rosacea and was well tolerated and accepted by the patients.
Sulphur and Acne
286 patients were treated for acne with a benzoyl peroxide and sulphur cream which consistently induced prompt suppression of acne lesions of all types and eliminated the need for x-ray, ultraviolet light and routine systemic antibiotic therapy. Contact allergic sensitivity, which developed in 2.5% of patients, was the only adverse reaction encountered. A better study would have been to evaluate benzoyl peroxide versus sulfur.
One study (from 1988) showed that sulfur was comedogenic when applied onto human and rabbit skin, findings that were not reproduced in other studies.
Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, October 2001, pages 282–286 (Antimicrobial properties of garlic)