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What is Sulfacetamide?

By Sonal Panse
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sulfacetamide is a medicinal drug that has anti-inflammatory properties and is effective against infections caused by bacterial microorganisms. It is used in a sulfur lotion and a sulfur cream that can be applied topically on the skin to treat acne and seborrheic dermatitis. It is also used in eye drops to treat blepharitis and conjunctivitis. Sulfacetamide may also be found in some anti-bacterial shampoos and cleansers.

The application of sulfacetamide disrupts folic acid synthesis in bacteria and inhibits the production of necessary enzymes. This puts a spanner in bacterial reproduction and curtails the infection. Overuse of the drug, however, can lead to the bacteria developing an altered metabolism that may be resistant to the drug.

Before using any sulfacetamide medications, it is essential to make sure that the user is not prone to drug allergies; in case of any allergies, the drug should be used minimally or avoided altogether. Users without allergies may experience some minor side reactions with this drug. These reactions can include skin irritation and reddening in case of topical skin application drugs, and, in the case of eye drops, may include an itching, burning or stinging sensation, eyelid swelling, watery eyes or light sensitivity. Such side effects are generally temporary, but if the discomfort continues it may be necessary to switch to other medications. Sulfacetamide, incidentally, is effective only against bacterial infections; it should not be used to treat viral or fungal infections.

It is important to know that this drug is not compatible with medicines containing silver nitrate and should not be used in combination with these. In the event any other prescription drugs are already in use, it is advisable to consult a doctor before using sulfacetamide to avoid any possibility of cross reactions. The effect of this drug on a developing fetus is not yet known. In lactating women, there may be a risk of the drug being passed on into breast milk. Pregnant and lactating women should therefore either avoid using sulfacetamide medications, or, again, only do so under advise from their doctor.

When using sulfacetamide eye drops, it is a good idea to avoid any hand contact with the dropper surface or opening, as this may lead to contamination. People wearing contact lenses will need to follow particular hygiene to avoid inflaming an infection. It may be necessary in some cases to stop using the contact lenses for the duration of the treatment.

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