Sodium Sulfacetamide for Acne

Topical medications are often prescribed to treat acne. One of these is sodium Sulfacetamide for acne that is often prescribed as an alternate treatment or in conjunction with other topical medications, which contain benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid or topical antibiotics. Sodium Sulfacetamide is very effective in treating inflammatory acne. It does not contain the unpleasant odor associated with pure sulfur preparations.

Sodium Sulfacetamide is available as a cream, lotion or wash. Most contain 5% sulfur and 10% sodium Sulfacetamide. Some come with shade tints and serve the dual purpose of acne medication and a cosmetic cover-up that can hide redness caused by inflammatory acne. Sodium sulfacetamide preparations are not very effective on their own but work extremely well as part of an acne treatment regimen   as it contains both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

How Sodium Sulfacetamide should be used

Since sodium sulfacetamide for acne must be applied topically, the affected areas must be cleaned using a mild cleanser and water. Pat the area dry, and then apply a thin film of the medication on the acne lesions. This can be done 1-3 times daily. The medication must not be applied on raw or cracked skin. When used regularly, sodium sulfacetamide is very effective in controlling acne outbreaks. 

Other topical medications or cosmetics must not be applied at the same time as sodium sulfacetamide unless a doctor approves their usage. When using sodium sulfacetamide face washes, you must rinse your face immediately after usage. Patients can see an Improvement in their outbreaks after a few weeks. 

If sodium sulfacetamide has been prescribed for scalp acne, the foam must be applied on dry hair and massaged until it completely dissolves. You must wash your hair at least once a week using a non-medicated, mild shampoo. 

When using the lotion, always shake the bottle well before use. If you use sodium sulfacetamide soap, then wet the skin, apply enough of the product to create lather, massage the skin, rinse out the area and pat dry with a soft, dry towel. 

Benefits of Sodium sulfacetamide

Sodium sulfacetamide for acne is a topical antimicrobial that can inhibit the occurrence of P.acnes that causes acne. It is used to treat mild or moderately severe acne. It can also open clogged pores. It works well on inflammatory acne either alone or in combination with other acne medications. Your dermatologist will be the best judge of which combination of acne medications to prescribe. Sodium Sulfacetamide for acne

Limitations and Possible side effects of Sodium sulfacetamide

Sodium sulfacetamide treats only one cause of acne – P.acnes. Hence, it must be used in combination with other acne medications to be effective. It produces a few side effects that must be reported if they persist. It takes a few weeks for improvements to be seen. Some patients do not like the sulfur odor or the grittiness, although newer products have solved this issue.

Side effects

The following are some of the side effects of sodium sulfacetamide for acne:

  • Rashes that are butterfly-shaped, red spots or patchy skin
  • Joint pain, accompanied by swelling or stiffness
  • Fever
  • Lethargic feeling
  • Sore throat, mouth sores
  • New skin infections
  • Pale skin that bleeds or bruises easily
  • Nausea
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Clay colored stools
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundiced skin

More severe side effects include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, throat or lips

These are signs of an allergic reaction and you must stop the medication at once and seek medical help.


Sodium sulfacetamide could be harmful if ingested. Hence, go to the nearest clinic if you swallow it by mistake. If a dose is missed, you can skip and continue with normal schedule. 

This medication cannot be used if the patient is allergic to sulfa drugs or sodium sulfacetamide. Inform your doctor if you suffer from sulfite allergy, asthma, and lupus or are using silver sulfadiazine products. Inform your doctor in if your side effects worsen or if your acne outbreak increases, you have a fever, swelling, sore throat, rash, pale skin, mouth sores, etc.

This product must not be applied over large areas. It must not be used when the patient suffers from other skin conditions and on wind burnt, sun burnt, chapped, dry, broken or irritated skin. Do not expose treated areas to direct sunlight. Use a sunscreen of SPF 30 or more and avoid tanning beds and sun lamps. 

Drug interaction

Inform your doctor about all medications, supplements, vitamins or herbal preparations you are taking. You will be informed if any of them react adversely with this product. Sodium sulfacetamide for acne cannot be used with other skin medications that contain silver. 


Since sodium sulfacetamide for acne is available as creams, lotions or washes, each have their own storage and disposal instructions. Hence, read the labels carefully and follow precise instructions. Keep the medication away from the reach of children and pets, strong light, heat and moisture. The product must be discarded properly when it is no longer required. Do not pour it out into a drain or flush it down the toilet.


Sodium sulfacetamide is a good topical antibacterial that treats inflammatory acne by inhibiting the growth of P.acnes and opening blocked pores. Patients who suffer from mild or moderately severe acne can get good results when using this medication combined with other acne treatments.