Acne vulgaris is the most common skin disorder affecting almost 17 million people in the United States of America. According to a survey in 2005, around 11.3% of all clinical visits to dermatologists were for acne vulgaris.

For its treatment, a variety of topical therapeutic treatments are available like benzoyl peroxide, erythromycin, clindamycin, antibiotics, retinoid and sodium sulfacetamide

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What is Sodium Sulfacetamide

Sulfacetamide is a sulfonamide antibiotic. Sulfonamides are competitively opposed to para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) which serves as an essential component for bacterial growth.

Sodium sulfacetamide together possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties which thus prevents the breakout of acne.

Sulfur is also often used with sulfacetamide to treat acne vulgaris as sulfur is a non-specific anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

Sulfacetamide 10% topical lotion has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration of USA for the treatment of acne.

How does Sodium Sulfacetamide treat acne?

Sodium sulfacetamide is used to treat mild to moderate acne vulgaris as either mono therapy or in combination with a topical retinoid.

Sodium sulfacetamide 10%-sulfur 5% is being used for the topical treatment of acne since 1950 in formulations including foam, cream, gel, cleansers, etc .

It uses the mechanism of limiting the presence of folic acid which bacteria need to survive. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

The sodium sulfacetamide 10%- sulfur 5% (SSS) emollient foam is formulated as alcohol-free, fragrance-free aerosol foam that exhibits moisturizing properties.


A thin layer should be applied to the affected area with mild massaging, one to three times each day. It can be used in the form of a ‘wash-off application’ as well as a ‘leave-on application’.

Wash off application: The cream/gel should be applied to the affected area and lightly massaged and should be left on for about 10 minutes after which the layer can be washed off and pat dry. This should be repeated 1 to 3 times daily.

Leave on application: The cream/gel should be applied to the affected area 1 to times daily only after the face has been washed and pat dry.


It should be stored at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 to 86F).

The proper disposal of any unused medication should be discussed with the pharmacist or doctor.

How much to apply?

Commonly in products containing sulfacetamide, the concentration is 10%.

It is also easily and widely available in this concentration. It should be applied one to three times in a day.

Possible Side effects

A few possible side effects are –

Sensitivity: Though it is rare, people might be sensitive to sodium sulfacetamide. Those who are hyper-sensitive to sulfonamides should avoid using this product. Signs of toxic reaction to those who are hyper-sensitive, includes acute hemolytic anemia, purpura hemorrhagica, drug fever and jaundice

Allergy: It contains sodium metabisulfite which may cause allergic type reaction including mild or severe asthmatic episodes in some people. Sulfite sensitivity is seen more often in asthmatic than non-asthmatic people.

Precautions to be taken

A few precautions need to be taken while using Sodium sulfacetamide –

  • During the long-term therapy, patients should be carefully observed for local irritation and sensitivity. In case of any irritation, the medication should be discontinued and proper therapy instituted.
  • Though not usual during the treatment of acne vulgaris, sulfur and sodium sulfacetamide can cause the reddening and scaling of epidermis and the patient must be cautioned against the possibility.
  • Pregnancy (category C): It has yet not been established if sodium sulfacetamide can affect or harm the fetus but it is advised that this medication should be administered or prescribed to a pregnant lady only when clearly needed.
  • It has also not been established whether sodium sulfacetamide is excreted in human milk. However, since a lot of other medications have found their way into human milk, it is usually advised that caution must be exercised when administering it to a nursing mother.
  • Its safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
  • It is only for external use and must be kept away from the eyes, mouth or the mucous membranes.

Popular brands of Sodium sulfacetamide

  • Klaron topical: It usually comes in the form of a lotion. Each ml of klaron lotion 10% contains 100 mg of sodium sulfacetamide in a vehicle consisting of purified water and proplyene glycol.
  • Sulfacet-R: It usually comes in the form of a lotion and each ml contains 10% of sodium sulfacetamide in it.
  • Novacet topical: It is usually preferred in lotion form and contains 50 mg sulfur and 100 mg sulfacetamide.

Customer reviews of Sodium sulfacetamide

We did a survey of online consumers who were engaged in using this product.

Here is a summary of what they have to say about the treatment of acne through sodium sulfacetamide:

What they liked about it

Reduces hyper-pigmentation: Many of the consumers who were using this product found that it prevented and even reduced the pigments that were on their skin. It not only made their acne go away but also made their skin clearer.

Gentler on the skin: The use of sodium sulfacetamide did not cause any irritation on the skin for a lot of consumers. It, on the other hand, made their skin more gentle and soft.

Cost effective: Many consumers were of the view that as compared to other medications for the treatment of acne, sodium sulfacetamide was cheaper and more easily available.

Time effective: sodium sulfacetamide has been seen to be very quick in its action to prevent breakouts. A lot of consumers saw 50% improvement in just two to three weeks, as such it is very time effective.

Minimal side effect: When compared to other medications for acne vulgaris, sodium sulfacetamide shows very less side effects and even those side effects are rare. Thus it is one of the best solutions when you do not want to get trapped in the tension of doing away with the side effects of products you are using.

What they did not like about it

Severe breakouts: A few consumers complained that as they started using this product, they breakouts got worse and more frequent. This might be related to the usual outbreaks that occur before the complete healing process starts. What is needed is some patience with the product.

Burns: With a few consumers, their skin became sensitive with the use of this product and often caused burns and rashes.


Sodium sulfacetamide is an antibiotic whose use for treating acne has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Association.

As compared with other forms of medication, it exhibits the least number of side effects which are also very rare and has proved effective for a majority of consumers who have tried it.

Apart from preventing acne breakouts, it also reduces scarring of the acne marks and has moisturizing properties that prevents dryness and scaling, making the skin gentler and the texture better.

Since there are more pros than cons associated with the use of this product, it is definitely worth a try.


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