Still Using Sudocrem to Clear Spots? We Asked a Derm If It Actually Works as a Treatment
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If you grew up in the UK, you almost definitely had a grey pot of thick ointment kicking about the bathroom cabinet: a magic cream called Sudocrem that was hailed as the cure for just about anything. It could soothe eczema, relieve nappy rash, and best of all, get rid of acne — all for just £3. Why would you ever need other (potentially expensive) spot treatments if this little pot could do it all? Sadly, truth is: the supposed cure-all cream might not actually cure our spots after all. "Traditionally, Sudocrem has been used to treat nappy rashes due to its antiseptic healing properties," said Dr. Zainab Laftah, consultant dermatologist at HCA The Shard. "However it is not formulated to target acne," she added.
As an emollient cream (thanks to its inclusion of lanolin), Sudocrem primarily helps to soften the skin, but it's got a handful of other ingredients that have their uses, too. Other ingredients that make up Sudocrem are: zinc oxide (an astringent), benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate (known for healing properties), and benzyl alcohol (acting as an antibacterial). "Whilst there is some limited evidence that oral zinc supplements may help reduce acne inflammation, unfortunately Sudocrem — which contains a small percentage of zinc oxide in a cream formula — will not help treat acne," said Dr. Laftah.
Although the ingredients sound promising as an acne treatment, Dr. Laftah explained that there is a misconception that antiseptic ingredients will help to reduce bacteria and inflammation associated with acne, which isn't always the case. The reason the cream works so well as a nappy rash cream is because of the soothing skin barrier repair ingredient of lanolin, which can unfortunately be highly comedogenic (meaning it can clog pores) for those with acne.
Instead of using Sudocrem as a spot treatment, there are plenty of other great (and affordable treatments) that are as easy to get your hands on. Dr. Laftah recommends using leave-on spot treatments containing a high concentration of benzyl peroxide or salicylic acid, both of which are effective at reducing acute inflammation in acne, she explained. Alternatively, you can also use pimple patches to dry out spots (please never use toothpaste to dry out your spots!) Spot patches are essentially "hydrocolloid dressings that draw out pus from lesions and assist with healing," Dr. Laftah explained.
We know at £3 a tub it's tempting, but if you're looking for effective acne treatments, put the Sudocrem to one side and try the products ahead instead. Leave that thick cream for the nappy rashes.