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What is sulfur soap?

Updated April 17, 2017

If you have ever struck a match you have witnessed the power of sulphur. Sulphur soap is a type of bar soap that contains this potent natural element. Soaps containing sulphur are used to treat skin conditions such as acne, whiteheads and other blemishes. In addition to anti-acne uses, sulphur soap is also purported to have antiseptic, anti-fungal and antibacterial properties.

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While the ingredients for sulphur soap products vary with each manufacturer, most sulphur soaps on the market have a 10 per cent sulphur content. The rest of the bar is usually made up of a combination of fragrance and a neutral soap base. For added punch against acne, some sulphur soaps also contain salicylic acid, a beta hydroxyl acid with additional anti-acne properties.


The antiseptic and antibacterial properties of the soap work to remove built-up oils and dirt. While a thorough cleansing can help prevent acne breakouts, the soap's benefits extend beyond basic cleaning. The sulphur in the soap removes old cells on the surface of the skin and helps to unclog pores and remove dirt and oil at a deeper level.


Sulphur soap is used in much the same way as regular bar soap. It is placed under warm running water, worked into a lather and then applied to wet skin.


Because one of the primary goals of sulphur soap is to slough away old skin cells, the soap may have a drying effect. For this reason it's a good idea to start slowly and see how the skin reacts to this product. People who take anticoagulant medications should consult their doctor before using sulphur soap. Other side effects may include skin redness and burning. Sulphur soap should never be used on skin that is already chapped or sunburned.


The idea of using sulphur as a treatment for skin problems is not a new one. Sulphur has been used to treat skin conditions for more than two centuries. Skin conditions that have responded to sulphur treatments include eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections and scabies.


In addition to sulphur soaps that contain 10 per cent sulphur content, there are soaps on the market that offer smaller amounts of sulphur. These soaps are gentler on the skin and will usually contain about 3 per cent sulphur content. Moisturisers such as olive oil or aloe vera may be used in conjunction with the sulphur to prevent drying and irritation.

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About the Author

Ann Hudson

Ann Hudson is a freelance writer who began her writing career working for a small community newspaper. While there, her work as a feature writer and a weekly columnist were honored. Hudson holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. She has been writing for more than 30 years.

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