If you’ve ever dealt with cystic acne (you know, those big, red, aching underground bumps that never come to a poppable head), you know how much it truly sucks. Your only options are to either wait around for a month (or three) until the zit slowly fades, or to get a pricey cortisone injection from a dermatologist, which flattens the bump within 48 hours. Or, according to Reddit, you can apparently use a sulfur cream to treat your cyst.
In a post titled, “To whoever recommended sulfur cream, freaking thank you,” one Reddit user by the name of TheQuinnBee detailed her recent fight against her pimples. “I had these two cystics that were driving me bonkers—they were freaking painful and noticeable and another was popping up,” she writes, adding that she finally tried a sulfur-based cream, specifically the De La Cruz 10% Sulfur Cream, at the suggestion of other Redditors.
She layered the cream over her cystic zit for 10 minutes before washing it off (“After a day, I could double it up,” she notes, in terms of leaving on the cream for 20 minutes instead of 10 after her skin built up a tolerance to the somewhat drying cream). “The new [cyst] vanished like immediately; the old ones are nearly gone. I haven't developed any new ones yet. It feels so freaking good not to have these painful cysts on my face.”
Uh, if this sounds magical to your pimple-hating ears, then you’re not alone—TheQuinnBee’s post quickly went viral. “Yes! I started using sulfur cream as a spot treatment and it is a miracle cream for overnight pimple killer!” writes one user, adding, “I live for it. Pimples die from it.” Another user writes, “It causes my cysts to come to surface for extraction” (i.e. the sulfur makes the zit come to a head), while another adds, “Yesssssssss, LOVE De La Cruz sulfur cream!! It resolved the worst cystic breakout of my life last year within a month, and I’ve been clear since.”
Though the $7 tub of cream does have almost 700 glowing reviews, that doesn’t mean its infused with some secret potion that dissolves all acne. In reality, the formula is mainly just pure sulfur, nothing more, nothing less. "Sulfur has natural antibacterial properties, so it can kill acne-causing bacteria in your pores, while also preventing new bacteria from growing,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor at Yale University.
The Fine Print
But, seeing as a cystic zit is an infection deep beneath the skin where over-the-counter topicals usually can’t penetrate, a sulfur cream wouldn’t be Dr. Gohara’s first line of defense (cystic acne usually requires a multi-step approach to treat your hormones internally and your skin externally).
Still, sulfur cream is known to be gentler than your classic salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide products, making it relatively harmless to test out, just in case you’re one of the lucky ones whose cysts disappear. And if your skin does clear up, please, send me the selfies.