Acne outdates any modern, topical peroxide treatments and medications. However, this does not mean that the condition went untreated until the 20th century. So how did people 500 years ago treat their acne? Sulfur. Interestingly, this treatment withstood the test of time and still is used in many modern treatment products today. Many people still prefer sulfur as a treatment for acne to more modern synthetic products and sulfur still remains the main ingredient in many treatment masks, ointments and soaps.
A Quick History Lesson
Sulfur and acne have been linked since around 200AD. It is actually one of the earliest acne remedies currently known. In fact, sulfur as a treatment for acne can be traced all the way back to the early days of the Roman civilization when sulfur was recommended by healers to cure skin infections and inflammation. Romans believed that acne was, in essence caused by clogged pores and the best way to unclog these pores was to mix sulfur in a mineral bath.
They weren’t wrong, This mixture was relatively effective in killing the bacteria that caused acne and even worked to dry up excess oil on the skin, so this sulfur acne treatment proved effective. In fact, sulfur still makes an appearance in most exfoliating products on the market today to treat acne. However, because of the mixed minerals the treatment also resulted in very dry skin.
How to use sulfur to treat acne
The three most popular and effective sulfur products on the market today are sulfur based soaps, sulfur ointment for acne (including spot treatments) and sulfur based masks. Sulfur masks are most effective if used a
couple times weekly, usually between 3 to 5 times a weeks. Spot treatments can be used to dry up single pimples as they appear, effectively cleaning the pore and removing any bacteria that could be under the skin. Sulfur soaps are by far the most popular and effective soaps on the market, regularly using these for routine face cleansings will help maintain healthy skin and may lessen the need for other products.
Read the label on sulfur products, pay close attention to any usage instructions and follow them closely. This is a good rule of thumb for any medicated acne treatment. Manufacturers include warnings and directions to not only avoid side-effects but to also ensure the best results with their product. Deviating from their instructions can result in a reduced effectiveness of the medication.
Like all other acne removing agents, overuse of sulfur as an acne treatment. It can dry out the skin if used too much, resulting in a slight pinking of the cheeks and around the nose. If you begin to see a reddening to your skin, cut back the usage of your acne products to about half, only incorporating back in usages when necessary.
Why Sulfur Works as an Acne Treatment?
Sulfur contains an element called Keratoloytic. This element has been proven to increase cellular turnover, which will actually result in an increased speed of healing from blemishes and similar skin conditions. It has also been shown to thin the epidermis, making pores less likely to clog that day. Sulfur in exfoliates has become a popular and effective product, because the sulfur’s naturally properties are aided by small grains, the combination acts to remove dead and damaged skin as well as blemishes.
Even more, sulfur possesses a mild amount of natural antibacterial properties. This property kills the bacteria that is considered to be the most common root to acne. Since the sulfur kills this bacteria, it effectively prevents new pimples from forming while getting rid of any existing blemishes. It is this exact antibacterial property that makes sulfur a common ingredient in masks. In these acne free sulfur masks are actually considered to be one of the best treatment masks on the market currently.
How does sulfur for acne treatment compare to other treatments today?
Today, sulfur gets most of its competition as an acne treatment from salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. The more modern products have very similar properties to sulfur. In a side by side test, these three products actually have very similar results. While these treatments are often considered the standard in the acne treatment industry today, products such as sulfur soap for acne treatment still remain popular in pharmacies and retail stores. One of the reasons sulfur has managed to remain competitive for the acne treatment market is because, unlike salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, sulfur is a completely natural occurring product. The other two are synthetic chemicals which, created by doctors and scientists to imitate the natural results of sulfur at more rapid results. While its results may be slower to see, many people consider the naturalness of sulfur to be a fair trade off for speed.