Topical creams and oral supplements are two ways of using zinc oxide for acne treatments. The mineral can fight the bacteria present in acne lesions, suppress the production of overactive oil glands, and help regulate hormones. Moderate to severe acne may be treated with both topical and oral zinc oxide. Some individuals also use zinc oxide products to enhance the benefits of more traditional acne medications, such as benzyl peroxide.
One of the uses of topical zinc oxide is the reduction of surface skin oil. Zinc oxide ointments and lotions are effective in drying up excess oil, which is thought to be one of the main causes of acne. Regular applications of zinc products on the skin can also help infections heal faster. Topical zinc oxide dries up oil and has been shown to be as effective as antibiotics at reducing acne-causing bacteria.
Oral supplements are taken by individuals who wish to use a natural alternative to oral antibiotics and prescription strength retinoids. Using zinc oxide for acne in this manner can be beneficial for patients who have an excess amount of androgen and testosterone. Mild to moderate acne has shown the most promise in using oral zinc supplements in place of traditional antibiotic treatments, such as tetracycline and doxycycline. A somewhat higher than normal daily intake can help balance hormones in the bloodstream and regulate the skin's oil gland activity.
Another possible use of zinc oxide for acne includes the idea of combination therapy. Some acne patients use both natural and prescription medications when attempting to treat the disorder. For instance, a patient may alternate between applying benzyl peroxide and a zinc oxide ointment to his skin. Other people take oral supplements while using topical antibiotics or retinoid creams.
Patients with severe blemishes may be able to use zinc oxide for acne as part of a maintenance program. While acne that is persistently severe and inflammatory usually requires prescription strength medication, zinc supplements can help patients control acne once the medication is discontinued. Since long-term oral antibiotic use can be harmful, zinc can keep bacteria in balance once prescriptions reduce it to normal levels. Topical zinc ointments might be able to reduce the severity of acne lesions and prevent them from becoming more inflamed.
A side benefit of topical zinc oxide lotions is that they tend to prevent scarring and hyper-pigmentation with moderate acne. Some potential scarring from severe acne might also be avoided with regular use. By reducing inflammation and encouraging proper collagen growth, the skin is able to repair itself with less damage.