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What Are the Different Uses of Zinc Oxide for Acne?

Helen Akers
Updated May 21, 2024
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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.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Helen Akers
By Helen Akers , Former Writer
Helen Akers, a talented writer with a passion for making a difference, brings a unique perspective to her work. With a background in creative writing, she crafts compelling stories and content to inspire and challenge readers, showcasing her commitment to qualitative impact and service to others.

Discussion Comments

By anon989753 — On Mar 20, 2015

Interesting conversation! Funny, I use a zinc oxide based suntan lotion and I used to always notice my skin get better in the summer at the beach, but that could also be the wonderful effects of the sun.

I started using a vitamin supplement a year ago called the Clear Skin Vitamin Pack and my acne totally cleared up with that. I just check the ingredients and lo and behold, it has 40mg of Zinc in it among it's ingredients.

I do get the occasional spot show up during my period so maybe I'll try spot treating it with diaper cream!

By LisaLou — On Aug 08, 2012

@myharley-- I know this is going to sound kind of gross, but there is quite a bit of zinc oxide in creams for diaper rash. I have been using this for a long time when I have an acne breakout.

A friend told me about this years ago, and I was surprised when it actually worked.

I put this on my acne at night and let it stay on my face as I sleep. It helps dry up the acne and also leaves my face feeling soft and smooth when I wash it off in the morning.

I don't use this during the day since I don't want to walk around with white spots on my face, but it works really well for me. It is also a lot less expensive than most of the special acne creams out there.

By myharley — On Aug 08, 2012

Where do you find zinc oxide? I don't think I have ever seen this with the other acne products at the store. I think I have tried just about every product that is on the shelf, and haven't found one yet that works all the time.

Someone once told me to be thankful I have oily skin instead of dry skin. They said that means my skin will stay younger looking as I get older. While that may be true, I wish I didn't get so much acne with my oily skin.

I am sure a lot of it has to do with regulating hormones, and if I could help balance these with a mineral instead of some chemical, that sounds like it would be the best way to go.

By Mykol — On Aug 07, 2012

I have never heard of using zinc oxide for acne and am particularly interested in this to help prevent scarring. I already have some acne scars on my face, and would love to find something that would help prevent getting more of these.

I am also wondering if using a zinc oxide cream would help minimize acne scars that are already there? Even when I use makeup, it doesn't completely cover up the acne scars.

I have always had oily skin and think that is one reason I have trouble with acne. It can be hard to find products that work that don't have side effects. Some products I have used have dried out my skin too much and leave it looking red and worse than it was before I started.

By bagley79 — On Aug 06, 2012

I take a zinc oxide supplement to help control my acne. I was trying to find a way to avoid taking oral antibiotics as I know they have side effects. My acne is persistent, so I wanted to find something I could take on a long term basis and not be concerned.

For the most post, this works pretty good if I remember to take it on a consistent basis. I have never tried the zinc oxide cream, and think this might be a good thing to try if I have a flare-up.

Helen Akers

Helen Akers

Former Writer

Helen Akers, a talented writer with a passion for making a difference, brings a unique perspective to her work. With a...
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