Sulfur Ointment (Precipitated Sulfur) 5% to 10%

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Sulfur Ointment (Precipitated Sulfur) 5% to 10%


Generic Name
Sulfur ointment (precipitated sulfur) 5% to 10%

Sulfur is used for several conditions and comes in ointment, cream, lotion, and soap. Sulfur in ointment is the formulation used for scabies and seborrheic dermatitis.

How It Works

Sulfur may kill adult scabies mites.

The medicine will come with instructions. And your doctor will also give you a treatment schedule. These instructions for using scabies medicines are a general guide for using scabies creams or ointments.

If sulfur is recommended for treating lice, talk to your doctor about how to use it.

Why It Is Used

Sulfur is used primarily to treat scabies in newborn infants and pregnant women.1 In general, it is used only when permethrin or other medicine cannot be used.

Sulfur is sometimes used to treat lice on very small infants, pregnant women, and nursing women, because it may be safer to use than other medicines.

How Well It Works

Precipitated sulfur is considered a safe treatment for scabies.1 There is not clear evidence from studies showing how well it works. But it sometimes cures scabies.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Painful burning and stinging of your skin.

Common side effects of this medicine include:

  • Temporary redness of the skin.
  • Itchy rash.
  • Mild burning or stinging.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

This medicine is often applied to the whole body for 3 days in a row, using it in the morning and again in the evening for 3 days.

Precipitated sulfur does not cost much. But is very messy, stains clothing and bedding, and has a bad odor.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Burkhart CN, Burkhart CG (2012). Scabies, other mites, and pediculosis. In LA Goldman et al., eds., Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2569–2578. New York: McGraw-Hill.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Last RevisedJanuary 23, 2013

Last Revised: January 23, 2013

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