Acne treatment products with the brand name Avar contain the active ingredients 5 percent sulfur and 10 percent sodium sulfacetamide. These products are available in cleanser, gel and cream, and are intended to treat not only acne, but rosacea and seborrhea as well. Because of the sulfacetamide component, Avar products are available by prescription only.
Sulfur is a common topical acne treatment, often combined with salicylic acid, resorcinol or sodium sulfacetamide, explains 10acne.com. Depending on the formulation, sulfur products are available over the counter or by prescription. The substance has keratolytic properties, meaning it promotes shedding of dead skin cells that clog pores and cause blackheads and whiteheads, known as comedones. Sulfur also inhibits growth of the acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes.
Sodium sulfacetamide is classified as a sulfonamide, also called a sulfa drug, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Sodium sulfacetamide is effective at treating inflammatory acne. The effects of sulfacetamide are primarily antibacterial, although, like sulfur, it also helps to clear blocked pores. Sulfonamide drugs were historically used for antibacterial effects before the development of penicillin and other antibiotics.
Clinical trials have investigated lotions containing 5 percent sulfur and 10 percent sodium sulfacetamide, as noted by an article published in the July-August 2004 issue of the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. These studies have found the products very effective at decreasing the number of inflammatory lesions and comedones associated with acne.
You can use the Avar Cleanser once or twice daily, or as directed by your doctor, advises Drug Reference Encyclopedia. Wet your skin and apply a liberal amount to acne-affected areas, avoiding any contact with your eyes or nasal passages. Gently massage the cleanser into your skin for 10 to 20 seconds while creating a lather, then rinse thoroughly. To use Avar gel or cream, apply a thin film of the product to affected areas one to three times daily, or as instructed by your doctor. Avoid applying any of these items to areas of broken skin to avoid excess absorption into the body.
Sulfur is associated with side effects of dryness, redness, itching, burning sensations and peeling. These effects typically decrease or disappear over time. Start with small doses and gradually increase them as your skin becomes accustomed to the medicine. Drug Reference Encyclopedia notes that dryness associated with the Avar cleanser can be controlled by rinsing the cleanser off sooner or using it less often. Rarely, some individuals experience a hypersensitivity reaction to sulfacetamide. This can cause contact dermatitis, but may also lead to a toxic systemic reaction, since the body absorbs the medication. Toxic reactions can include fever, severe drops in white blood cell levels, anemia, small hemorrhages in the skin and jaundice.