Medically Reviewed on 3/13/2023

Generic Name: resorcinol/sulfur

Brand Names: Acnotex, Clearasil Stay Clear Acne Treatment Cream, Clearasil Adult Tinted Acne Treatment Cream, Rezamid, Glytone Flesh Tinted Acne Treatment Lotion, Pernox Scrub for Oily Skin

Drug Class: Acne Agents, Topical

What is resorcinol/sulfur, and what is it used for?

Resorcinol/sulfur is a combination topical lotion used to treat acne vulgaris, a skin condition that causes pimples, bumps, pustules, cysts, and comedones (whiteheads and blackheads), usually in adolescents and young adults.

Acne is caused by obstruction and inflammation of the hair follicles due to clogging up of the follicles with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Resorcinol/sulfur dries up the acne eruptions and also prevents the formation of new pimples. The combo lotion is available over the counter (OTC) in the U.S.

Resorcinol is a topical antiseptic and antibacterial agent while sulfur is a chemical element that is abundant naturally in all living beings and in the environment. Both resorcinol and sulfur are keratolytic substances that break down keratin, a fibrous protein that is part of the skin structure. This helps loosen and shed dead skin cells and prevents the clogging up of hair follicles and the resultant inflammation.


  • Do not use resorcinol/sulfur lotion if you are hypersensitive to any of the components of the formulation.
  • Do not apply if you have skin rash or irritation.
  • Do not use it on broken skin or large areas of the skin.
  • Do not use concurrently with other acne treatments, it may cause excessive dryness or irritation of the skin.
  • Discontinue the use of resorcinol/sulfur and consult with your physician if you develop excessive skin irritation or if irritation persists.

What are the side effects of resorcinol/sulfur?

Common side effects of resorcinol/sulfur include:

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Acne is the result of an allergy. See Answer

What are the dosages of resorcinol/sulfur?



  • 2%/4%
  • 2%/5%
  • 2%/8%

Adults and Adolescents:

Acne Vulgaris

  • After cleansing, apply sparingly to the affected area(s) up to three times daily
  • Product content varies, check individual labeling


  • Topical resorcinol/sulfur is absorbed systemically through the skin. Excessive or prolonged topical use of the drug can cause blue-black discoloration of the skin.
  • Systemic effects of excessive topical use or oral ingestion include drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nervousness, tiredness, weakness, slow heart rate, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Resorcinol can also affect the thyroid gland, red blood cells, liver, kidney and spleen.
  • Resorcinol/sulfur overdose may be treated with symptomatic and supportive care.

What drugs interact with resorcinol/sulfur?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • Resorcinol/sulfur has no listed severe, serious, moderate, or mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Resorcinol/sulfur is systemically absorbed and should be used during pregnancy with caution only if potential benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the fetus.
  • It is not known if using resorcinol/sulfur results in sufficient systemic absorption to be present in breastmilk. Check with your physician before use.
  • Check with your physician before using any OTC product, including resorcinol/sulfur, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What else should I know about resorcinol/sulfur?

  • Use resorcinol/sulfur exactly as directed and apply only on the affected area.
  • Resorcinol/sulfur is for external use only. Avoid contact with eyes, lips, and mouth.
  • Store resorcinol/sulfur lotion safely out of reach of children.
  • In case of oral ingestion and overdose, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.


Resorcinol/sulfur is a combination topical lotion used to treat acne vulgaris, a skin condition that causes pimples, bumps, pustules, cysts, and comedones (whiteheads and blackheads), usually in adolescents and young adults. Common side effects of resorcinol/sulfur include excessive skin peeling, skin irritation, skin inflammation, and skin redness (erythema). Excessive or prolonged topical use of the drug can cause blue-black discoloration of the skin. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Medically Reviewed on 3/13/2023