Topical zinc oxide is a non-prescription (OTC) over-the-counter) mild astringent with weak antiseptic properties. It is a skin protectant that is used to treat and prevent various skin conditions including minor abrasions, burns, chafing, diaper rash, insect bites, and minor skin irritation. Zinc oxide works by forming a barrier on top of the skin that protects the area from moisture and irritants.

  • Topical zinc oxide is available in various formulations including cream, ointment, paste, powder and solution spray. Zinc oxide paste is commonly used to treat weeping or oozing associated with poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.
  • Zinc oxide is also used with titanium dioxide in sunscreen products.



  • Preventing and treating diaper rash. It can also be used to treat minor skin irritations (eg, cuts, burns, and scrapes, poison ivy).
  • It works by providing a skin barrier to prevent and help heal skin irritation.


  • UV Protection:  According to Dr. Marilynn Syrett, zinc oxide is one of the safest ingredients for protecting the skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays penetrate the skin and damage tissue, speeding up the aging process and drying the skin out. These rays also increase the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreens containing zinc oxide filter out UV rays, keeping them from penetrating the skin and causing cell damage.
  • Skin Healing:  Zinc oxide is also effective for healing the skin. It can be used to heal wounds, reduce the tenderness associated with sunburns and soften chapped skin. Jonathan Moore, DPM, notes that people who are zinc deficient typically experience slower wound-healing times. When zinc oxide is applied to the wound area, it provides the body with the extra zinc it needs to repair skin cells. Zinc oxide helps keep the wound area moist and clean.
  • Astringent:Lotions and creams containing zinc oxide are effective skin astringents, says Dr. Syrett. You can apply zinc oxide to keep excess oils from forming on the surface. It is sometimes used as an acne treatment — it is believed to reduce the appearance of blemishes and reduce skin irritation and inflammation, reducing the number and severity of acne breakouts.


  • Allergies:  In rare instances, topical forms of zinc oxide may produce an allergic reaction on skin, including burning, stinging, itching, tingling and dark discoloration, according to the National Institutes of Health. An allergy to the oral form of the drug can lead to hives, difficulty breathing and swelling. Many zinc topical preparations also include additional ingredients, so if you are allergic to commonly used additives such as dimethicone, lanolin, cod liver oil, petroleum jelly, parabens, mineral oil or wax, you should probably avoid using these products, cautions Drugs.com.


  • Drug interactions are found most often with oral zinc oxide. Avoid taking this supplement if you’re also on cisplatin for chemotherapy, since a high intake of zinc may help cancer cells become resistant to that drug. With other medicines like penicillamine, tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones, zinc oxide can prevent them from being absorbed into the bloodstream, so you should avoid taking them two hours before or four to six hours after zinc, according to Dr. Arthur Schoenstadt of eMedTV.com.

Other names

Zinc white, calamine, philosopher’s wool, Chinese white, flowers of zinc


Source: Drugs.com, http://www.drugs.com/cdi/zinc-oxide-cream.html

LiveStrong, http://www.livestrong.com/article/258224-how-to-remove-zinc-cream/

LiveStrong, http://www.livestrong.com/article/125242-zinc-oxide-side-effects/

Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_oxide

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