What is Skin Zinc?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

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.

Zinc pyrithione is used in dandruff shampoos.
Zinc pyrithione is used in dandruff shampoos.

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.

Skin zinc can reduce irritation from eczema.
Skin zinc can reduce irritation from eczema.

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.

A doctor should be cnsulted before starting a skin zinc treatment.
A doctor should be cnsulted before starting a skin zinc treatment.

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.

Ringworm is a fungal infection that may be treated with skin zinc.
Ringworm is a fungal infection that may be treated with skin zinc.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@ddljohn-- Actually, zinc is very beneficial for the skin. It's been used for years to treat dandruff, acne and dermatitis.

I did use Skin Zinc for my eczema and I did see an improvement in my condition. I know many people did not benefit. I guess it's sort of a hit or fail with this product. For me, the cost was definitely worth it, but clearly, it wasn't worth it for you.

But this is not the only brand on the market with zinc in it. There are many other brands that make creams and lotions with zinc and they are much cheaper.

@anon1269, @anon14997, @anon116750, @turkay1-- I'm not sure about zinc skin products in general, but I think that "Skin Zinc," the brand, is a scam. They advertise on radio nonstop and tell stories about relatives with serious psoriasis and eczema that were completely healed. I have psoriasis, I bought one of the kits last year with the spray and lotion for a ridiculous amount of money and it did absolutely nothing!

It might be beneficial for people with mild irritation or skin sensitivity but definitely not effective for more serious skin conditions and definitely not at that price.

And if this product really was beneficial, wouldn't doctors prescribe it for their patients?


I think zinc is really good for the skin. I don't have eczema but my sister does and she has been using skin zinc for years. The other day, I used a new face cream and five minutes later, my skin turned completely red and started itching! I had an allergic reaction to the ingredients in the cream. I washed my face, but the redness didn't go away and I even got little bumps on my face.

Then, I remembered my sister's skin zinc cream and decided to give it a try. I applied it and in about five minutes, the itching disappeared. By morning, the redness and the bumps were gone!

I love skin zinc now! The product doesn't make claims about calming skin and fighting inflammation but I think that's what it does. I'm going to keep a bottle of this all the time.


Can skin zinc treat tinea capitus?


can zinc pyrithione anti dandruff shampoo treat tinea versicolor?


Does this product help with actinic keratosis?

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