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  5. Zinc Oxide For Skin: Benefits, Uses & Side Effects

Are you looking for a one-stop ingredient to resolve your skin problems? Perhaps, we have found a perfect one for you.

Zinc oxide, a commonly known active ingredient found in diaper-rash relief products, offers a plethora of benefits when applied to your skin.

Scroll down to find out what zinc oxide does to your skin and how it can help your skin look healthy and feel beautiful.

What Is Zinc Oxide?

Zinc oxide is a white powdery chemical or inorganic compound obtained from oxidizing zinc. The oxidation makes zinc a potent ingredient to be used to treat several skin conditions including inflammation, sun damage, acne, etc. Zinc oxide has largely been used as a strong sun protection ingredient for ages. [1]

Besides supporting skin healing for decades, zinc oxide, today, is a common active ingredient found in physical sunscreens, diaper rash creams, calamine lotions, etc. Zinc oxide is most commonly added to topical solutions such as moisturizers, sunscreens, makeup products like foundations, and so on.

Did You Know?

From 1940 to 1980, products containing zinc oxide were primarily used to treat skin conditions like poison ivy or rashes. Later by the 1980s, medical literature widely supported its benefits for treating sun damage.

Is Zinc Oxide Safe For Your Skin?

Usually, zinc oxide is a safe ingredient used in cosmetics. It is used in several over-the-counter skin protectants and sunscreen drug products. However, it is best to conduct a patch test on your skin before using any of such skin care products. When used to treat wounds or other skin conditions, do consult your doctor first.

What Are The Benefits Of Zinc Oxide For Skin?

1. Protects Skin From Sun Damage

Researchers have found that zinc has natural sun-protection benefits. When your skin is filled with a rich layer of zinc oxide, it reflects and absorbs the UVA and UVB rays [2]. This way it blocks the harmful rays from entering your skin. However, the efficacy of this ingredient completely depends on its concentration.

Different products use different percentages of zinc oxide which is why the effect varies. The more zinc oxide is on your skin, the longer it is protected from sun damage. Usually, sunscreens contain 25% to 30% of zinc oxide.

2. Improves Healing Of Skin

Zinc has a natural ability to heal wounds. People who are suffering from wound or skin damage like sunburn, tenderness etc. can rely on using topical zinc oxide. It will heal the skin from within and soothe it. On the contrary, deficiency of zinc has been linked to slower wound healing. [3]

3. Controls Excess Oil

Zinc oxide works as an astringent when you apply it topically. It controls the oil formation beneath your skin and prevents excess oil from being produced. Thus, those with oily skin types can greatly benefit from topical zinc oxide. Reducing oil formation also helps maintain the oil balance, thus decreasing the risk of acne breakouts. [4]

4. Treats Acne

Studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of zinc make it beneficial to treat inflammatory skin conditions. It is usually blended with other antibacterial agents that together help to minimize pain, severity and appearance of acne breakouts [5]. Moreover, research states that topical use of zinc oxide alone or in combination with other elements can be effective to reduce P. acnes bacteria.

5. Prevents Bacterial Infection

As mentioned earlier, zinc oxide is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and can heal wounds. All these qualities help zinc oxide to lower the chances of bacterial infection. A 2003 study suggests that zinc oxide decreases the risk of developing a bacterial infection by preventing the internalization of the bacteria.

How To Use Zinc Oxide On Face?

1. As A Sunscreen

When you are using a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide, make sure to apply it 30 minutes before you set out in the sun. To completely protect yourself from sun damage, use a sufficient amount of sunscreen and gently apply it to your face, neck, top of the ears, etc. You can apply it to the other exposed areas such as the back, hands or legs as well.

2. As A Cream

To treat acne, you may dab a small amount of zinc oxide cream on the acne spots after washing your face and moisturizing it. Remember to check the concentration before using the product. It is however always advisable to consult your dermatologist before using any of such skincare products containing zinc oxide.

3. Other Ways To Use:

A. As An Ointment

If you are using zinc oxide ointment to heal a wound, clean the wound first. Apply the ointment on top of the wound and wrap it with a bandage for better results. If you are not comfortable using a bandage and only if it is a tiny wound, you can avoid the bandage.

B. As A Powder

Check the dosage and usage instructions before using zinc oxide powder. You may use two tablespoons at a time if using it for a homemade cream or lotion.

Word of Caution

Zinc oxide ointment is only for external uses. Do not use it on your eyes. Avoid any contact with your eye region while applying the ointment.

Side Effects Of Zinc Oxide & Precautions

Zinc Oxide does not cause any severe side effects. Usually, drugs tend to cause allergic reactions to human skin, but thankfully cases of allergic reactions due to zinc oxide are rare. In case you develop symptoms like rashes, itching, swelling of skin, throat or tongue, immediately seek medical help.

Also, if you are already allergic to this particular ingredient, avoid using it. In case you have any other allergy or skin condition, consult your doctor before using topical zinc oxide. It may worsen the situation rather than doing any good for your skin. If you are pregnant or lactating, please consult your doctor before using any product with zinc oxide.

Useful Tips About Zinc Oxide

1. Always do a patch test before using zinc oxide on the skin.

2. Never apply zinc oxide on broken or blistered skin.

3. If you have dry skin, use zinc oxide along with a moisturizer to prevent it from further drying out.

4. If you are using any medication, keep your doctor informed before using zinc oxide.

5. Do not use zinc oxide as an internal medicine.

6. Avoid using zinc oxide near your eyes.

7. Wear a zinc-oxide rich sunscreen daily. Even if you are not going out, wearing sunscreen at home can save you from the blue light of laptops and mobile phones.

8. Zinc oxide is mostly safe for all skin types. It suits sensitive and acne-prone skin perfectly too.

Wrapping Up

Zinc oxide is an active ingredient found in sunscreens, used to treat itching, skin infections, chapped skin, and skin conditions. Besides, it has great wound healing capabilities too. You can include this powerhouse ingredient in your daily skincare routine. But, make sure to read the product labels carefully to understand the dosage and follow the usage instructions. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergic reactions, do consult your doctor before using it on your skin.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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