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Zinc oxide ointment is said to help treat oily skin and acne by drying out oil on the skin and encouraging the shrinkage of pimples. In fact, some scientific studies report that it decreases one's production of sebum, which is the substance responsible for lubricating the skin. Usually, however, doctors do not prescribe it for acne treatment, so statements about its effectiveness often come from people who have tried it. Since each person's skin will respond in a different manner, however, success with using zinc ointment for acne will likely vary.
As a mineral treatment, zinc oxide is commonly used in ointments for diaper rash and other types of skin irritations. In such cases, it dries, soothes and protects irritated skin and helps speed healing. This is the reason people may try zinc ointment for acne — it can help to dry excess oil on the surface of the affected person's skin and may speed healing of the pimples as well. Additionally, this type of treatment is said to help lower oil production. This is important, as excess oil in the skin clogs the pores, which leads to pimples.
To use zinc ointment for acne, a person can wash the affected skin with a mild cleanser and then rinse it thoroughly. He can then apply a zinc oxide ointment to the area in which he wants to prevent pimples and directly to pimples that have already developed. After this, an individual will most likely need to leave it on his face for several hours to allow it to work. Most people leave it on the skin overnight and then wash it off in the morning, as zinc oxide preparations often create an unsightly, white film on the skin.
Though some studies have shown that zinc ointment can help reduce sebum production, it may not prove the most effective treatment for acne. Most over-the-counter (OTC) acne treatments include active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid for topical treatment because they are proven effective for many types of acne. Likewise, most dermatologists prescribe topical medications such as retinoids, which are made from vitamin A and adapalene, also called Differin®, for this purpose. As such, it is reasonable to conclude that these treatments may prove more effective in general than zinc oxide ointments.
Despite the fact that other treatments are more commonly used than zinc oxide ointment, some people may find it worth a try. It is readily available over the counter, so a person can use zinc ointment for acne on a trial basis without much hassle or expense. Various skin types and types of acne may respond to it differently, however.