Approximately 45 million people in the United States get acne each year, with the prevalence extremely high--85 percent--in teenagers and adults under age 24, according to the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research. Although no one treatment works for everyone's acne, selenium sulfide, which can be applied directly to skin, might help treat your acne, according to the University of Virginia.
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Acne usually starts when you're a teenager, when surging hormones increase oil in the skin, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Once you're producing too much of that oil, it can clog your pores, causing blackheads, whiteheads and very small pimples. If bacteria get involved, those blockages become swollen pimples, and in severe cases you may also experience general inflammation and pain.
Selenium sulfide is an antifungal agent found in shampoos intended for dandruff treatment, according to the website Drugs.com. It prevents fungus from growing on your skin, and may also have some antibacterial properties. Selenium sulfide also contains sulfur, which has been used for years to treat acne.
Sulfur works to treat acne by causing your skin to peel, which can help loosen and clear the blockages that cause pimples, according to Drugs.com. To use selenium sulfide for acne, you should wash your face and any other affected skin for 10 to 20 seconds with the medicated lotion, according to the University of Virginia. Make sure not to get it in your eyes, or it will sting badly.
Since most acne sufferers tend to rely on over-the-counter remedies containing the common acne-fighting ingredients benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, you may not have tried selenium sulfide for your acne, according to the University of Virginia. However, selenium sulfide is cheap and very easy to find. It does have one drawback: sulfur smells like rotten eggs.
Some people have allergic reactions to sulfur products. When using selenium sulfide for your acne, seek medical attention if you develop hives, unusual swelling or difficulty breathing, according to the website Drugs.com. In addition, side effects of selenium sulfide used for acne can include skin peeling, itching, redness and irritation. If these occur, you may need to cut back on the use of the product.