What Is Colloidal Sulfur?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 24 February 2020
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Colloidal sulfur is a finely divided form of sulfur. It is used to treat a wide array of skin conditions, including acne, rashes, and rosacea. Skin products with colloidal sulfur typically come in creams, ointments, face masks, and soaps.

The use of of this substance to treat skin problems predates the development of dermatology practice. It first came into use in the late 1800s. Many modern preparations with the element are available over-the counter.

Colloidal sulfur helps to clear the skin by preventing bacteria from growing. This can help to unclog pores, thus allowing impurities to exit the body. Some products containing the element can also help to slough off dead skin.

In order to reduce the risk of side effects, it is often advisable to use products containing this substance on small patches of skin, as the more skin it covers, the more sulfur the body absorbs. Though it can be an effective skin treatment, the element can also be an unpleasant substance to use. Due to its fine texture, it tends to have the least intense smell of most topical sulfur products, but it can still be strong enough to cause some individuals to discontinue its use. Products with the element also often dry the skin, which can cause other problems.


Common side effects include itching, burning, and irritation. Some individuals may also notice uncharacteristic warmth, swelling, and redness. These symptoms should go away if use of the product is discontinued.

Severe side effects from taking colloidal sulfur are rare and should receive immediate medical attention. They can include mouth sores, fever, joint pain, and a worsening of the skin condition being treated. Products with this ingredient should not be used by people with sulfa allergy or intolerance. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives; breathing difficulties; and swelling of the throat, face, and tongue.

There are also precipitated sulfur products available for skin care. This type of sulfur has a larger molecular structure than colloidal structure. It is less expensive, but it also has a much stronger odor. Though perfumes can be used to counteract some of the smell, it is sometimes still too unpleasant for many consumers.

Colloidal sulfur is also sold in powder form for a variety of manufacturing purposes. It is primarily used to make rubber-like products that must have a small molecular structure. Some common products include condoms and surgical gloves.


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Post 2

@kylee07drg - I use colloidal sulfur, and it has definitely helped unclog my pores. I noticed a big difference between this and other acne medications, because nothing I tried previously worked.

As for the smell, it really isn’t that bad if you just dab it directly onto spots of acne. If you have to cover your whole face with it, then the smell will overpower anything you put on.

I dab perfume on each side of my neck and on my wrists, and I don’t even notice the smell of sulfur. No one walking by you would be able to smell it if you just use a little bit.

Post 1

Has anyone here ever used colloidal sulfur for acne? I have tried so many over-the-counter medicines and home remedies, but I have yet to try this.

I hate the smell of sulfur, and I’m wondering if perfume would adequately cover it up. I’m afraid that the smell might be so overpowering that it could dominate the perfume or make it smell even worse.

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