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Soufre et eczéma.

Sulphur: What benefits against eczema?

Various treatment options are available for eczema, including topical corticosteroid creams and ointments, oral medications, and moisturising creams. Sulphur also presents a potential avenue. Here, we will explore what we know about the use of sulphur in the treatment of eczema, including its potential benefits, effectiveness, and risks.

Eczema: What is it?

Eczema refers to a non-contagious skin condition that causes redness and inflammation. It also presents itself through itching, which can lead to bleeding in cases of excessive scratching.

The causes of eczema involve numerous factors such as an overactive immune system, genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and harsh chemicals. These, in conjunction with a dysfunction of the skin barrier, can promote an eczema flare-up. When the skin barrier no longer provides protective function, skin moisture evaporates, allowing irritants to act freely.

Eczema flare-ups also occur due to specific trigger factors. These can include respiratory infections, the common cold, detergents, soaps, extreme temperatures, and contact with certain animals or rough fabrics such as wool.

The symptoms accompanying eczema can range from mild to severe. Mild signs of the condition manifest as dry skin with flaking. For severe symptoms, these may correspond to persistent redness and itching, followed by cracking and oozing.

Is sulphur an effective treatment for eczema?

The sulphur has been used for a long time in traditional medicine to treat various skin conditions. Some claim that products containing sulphur would help to alleviate the symptoms of eczema. A study conducted in 2017 on mice also demonstrated that bathing in spring water containing several minerals, including sulphur, would reduce inflammation similar to that of eczema.

However, up until now, the only evidence supporting its use is anecdotal and remains inconclusive due to limited scientific proof. Furthermore, no study has examined the impact of sulphur on eczema in humans to confirm its effectiveness. Therefore, additional research is necessary to confirm its effects.

However, sulphur possesses several properties that could be beneficial to individuals suffering from inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema

  • Anti-inflammatory property: A 2018 study suggests that mineral-rich waters, including sulphur, could alleviate eczema and psoriasis. It is particularly helpful in reducing skin inflammation, a common symptom of eczema, and soothing irritations.

  • Anti-microbial action: Certain species of bacteria can exacerbate the symptoms of eczema or lead to secondary infections. Indeed, a small clinical trial revealed that the presence of Staphylococcus aureus worsens the symptoms of hand eczema. However, sulphur could help to inhibit their growth with its anti-microbial properties.

  • Keratolytic effect: Sulphur appears to have keratolytic properties. Besides removing dead cells, these keratinocyte agents also have the ability to retain moisture on the skin, which means it can soften and hydrate eczematous skin.

  • Drying Effect: Sulphur has a drying effect on the skin, which can be beneficial for individuals suffering from weeping eczema lesions.

How do we use sulphur to treat skin conditions such as eczema?

Sulphur is utilised in various ways to treat skin conditions:

  • Topical Application: Sulphur is often found in the form of pastes, ointments, creams or lotions that are applied directly to the affected skin areas to reduce inflammation and control itching associated with eczema. The creams and lotions may contain a combination of sulphur and other ingredients. Although some anecdotal evidence supports their use, further research is needed to determine their actual effectiveness.

  • Sulphurous Baths: Some people use water containing sulphur or add sulphur-based bath additives. They claim that homeopathic preparations based on sulphur help them manage their eczema. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, limited evidence confirms that homeopathy is a viable treatment for any health problem.

  • Sulphur Soaps and Shampoos: These products often contain sulphur, which can be beneficial for treating various skin conditions. They cleanse the skin or scalp during bathing or showering. The sulphur thus comes into contact with the skin, reducing inflammation and irritation. Although sulphur soap may be helpful to you, it can cause dryness or skin irritation. It is best to use it sparingly and stop using it if you experience adverse effects. While some anecdotal evidence supports their use, further research is needed to determine their actual effectiveness.

Sources

  • LEE K.-J. & al. Balneotherapeutic effects of high mineral spring water on the atopic dermatitis-like inflammation in hairless mice via immunomodulation and redox balance. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies (2017).

  • ADAR T. & al. The use of balneotherapy in dermatology. Clinics in Dermatology (2018).

  • FABBROCINI G. & al. The role of thermal water in chronic skin diseases management: A review of the literature. Journal of Clinical Medicine (2020).

  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Homeopathy: What you need to know? (2021).

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