Q. Is Sulfa antibiotic an appropriate drug for forehead sore?

Answered by
Dr. Ashwini. V. Swamy
and medically reviewed by Dr.Nithila A
This is a premium question & answer published on Sep 10, 2019

Hello doctor,

I went to my doctor yesterday for a sore on my forehead. I was concerned it would be skin cancer. He agreed that it looked strange, and suggested a Sulfa antibiotic to see if it is getting better. If not he told me to come back again. I am curious about it. Kindly give me an opinion on seeing the picture, is it right to try the Sulfa antibiotics first or should I need to see a specialist as soon as possible.



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I can see it has formed scab now, (attachment removed to protect patient identity) and it could be,

  1. Folliculitis (I see a similar small red spot on the scalp), it responds to topical antibiotics like Clindamycin 1 %, Mupirocin 2 %.
  2. Irritated seborrheic keratosis a benign condition.
  3. Actinic keratosis a precancerous spot.

The dermoscopic examination will provide more information about the nature of the lesions. However, considering the acute onset, pain and similar spots on the scalp, I feel it is good to use Clindamycin lotion or any topical antibiotic for about five to seven days. If it is folliculitis, it resolves in a week. If it persists, then skin biopsy is necessary to rule out precancer or squamous cell cancer of the skin.

If you have a family history of skin cancer like basal cell cancer or squamous cell cancer and if you have had more sun exposure in the past and you do not use sunscreen every day then it needs a biopsy as soon as possible.

Thank you doctor,

I will keep taking the topical along with Sulfa antibiotics. If it does not improve, I will get back to my doctor. I am adopted, and I do not know my family medical history. I am 46 years old, so I have had a lot of sun exposure. However, I have never been a person that tanned a lot and have not used tanning beds very much. I am pretty fair skinned, and when I am in the sun, I do not get dark. It is weird how it came on so fast, and it is hurting right now.



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Most skin cancers like a basal cell or squamous cell start as painless bump and take months to enlarge in size. The face is a common site for basal cell cancer. Continue using antibiotic for now. It is very difficult to rule out the possibility of skin cancer without dermoscopic examination. On dermoscope, we study the pattern of lesions, if found abnormal we do a biopsy for the lesion and send for pathology. If it is still present after a week, I would recommend to see your dermatologist.

Thank you doctor,

Ok doctor. Thank you for the information.



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You are welcome. Take care.

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