Skin zinc is a topical lotion or spray that contains zinc pyrithione. Zinc pyrithione is a preparation of a zinc compound; zinc is a mineral that is found in minute amounts in nearly all living things. Skin zinc is used to treat skin irritation caused by dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis. It also is promoted as a fungicide for treating conditions such as athlete’s foot or ringworm.
Benefits and Uses
Zinc pyrithione, which was first synthetically produced in the 1930s, has anti-fungal properties. Some people also claim that it has anti-bacterial agents and can fight certain bacteria strains. For decades, zinc pyrithione has been used with a high degree of effectiveness in shampoos to treat dandruff. In the 1990s, over-the-counter preparations of skin zinc containing zinc pyrithione became popular. Although certain products in the 1990s contained steroids and were banned in some jurisdictions, later formulations no longer contained steroids and were widely available in the early 21st century.
Few Adverse Reactions
Skin zinc is not known to cause adverse reactions, with the possible exception of allergic reactions in some people. There is clinical evidence that very little zinc is absorbed through the skin when skin zinc is used. People who are known to be allergic to zinc or zinc pyrithione should avoid using skin zinc in any form.
Choosing a Product
When looking for skin zinc, consumers should keep in mind that the claimed benefits of some manufacturers can be misleading. Users might test various brands of skin zinc and determine which benefits they receive, then choose a certain brand to achieve specific benefits. Someone who is considering using skin zinc to help treat a skin condition might consult with his or her doctor or dermatologist, who might be able to offer opinions on its effectiveness or other possible solutions. As with any over-the-counter preparation, consulting a doctor before starting a treatment regimen can help prevent drug interactions or other issues that might make the product unsafe for a particular person.
Treatment of Eczema
Claims of skin zinc effectiveness are less well established when the product is marketed to people who are suffering from eczema. Some eczema is caused by zinc deficiency, but there has been little evidence found that either oral or topical supplementation will resolve the condition. Eczema is often the cause of prolonged allergies, diet and stress. Identifying the causes and successfully treating the condition can be difficult even for dermatologists.