What is Zinc Oxide Ointment?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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Zinc oxide ointment is a topical ointment used in the treatment of diaper rash, minor skin irritations, and minor burns. In addition, suppositories are useful in treating the itching and burning caused by painful bowel movements and hemorrhoids. Although this ointment is ineffective in eliminating bacterial and fungal skin infections, it can provide soothing relief from pain and irritation. It should not be used in the eyes or mouth, nor should it be used on severe burns or deep puncture wounds. Unless recommended by a medical professional, other types of ointment should not be applied on the same area being treated with zinc oxide.

Typically, zinc oxide is well tolerated and the risk of side effects is low. If, however, a person experiences side effects or irritation, he or she should notify a healthcare provider. Some infrequent side effects of using zinc oxide ointment may be allergic reaction at the application site, and hives. Patients using suppositories for the treatment of rectal irritation should stop using them if they develop rectal bleeding or their pain continues. Because zinc oxide is considered very safe, it will typically not have any negative interaction with oral medications.


Generally, when using zinc oxide to treat skin irritations, enough of the ointment should be used to completely cover the area that needs to be treated. It usually leaves behind a white residue that a patient is not able to rub in. The cream typically can be used as often as needed, and when it's used to treat diaper rash, it should be used after every diaper change. It is of the utmost importance for a baby's caregiver to apply the ointment before bedtime when a long time period between diaper changes will occur. In addition, changing a wet diaper as soon as possible will also hasten healing.

Zinc oxide has a low incidence of adverse reactions, so it can be used by people of all ages, although pregnant women should avoid it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies zinc oxide as a category C, which indicates that the medication might be detrimental to unborn babies. It is unknown if the ointment passes through to breast milk or if it has the ability to cause harm to a nursing baby. This ointment should not be used while pregnant or nursing a baby, and should never be used on the breast area.


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Post 5

I used efudex ointment to remove a flat wart from the back of my hand, and now the wart is gone but I have redness and what looks like scabs there. What can I use to counter the efudex ointment?

Post 3

There certainly are a variety of zinc oxide ointment uses. I have used it to treat sunburns. Zinc oxide is also used to prevent sunburn. It brings to mind the image of someone on the beach or in a lifeguard tower with that hard-to-miss white band of cream across their nose.

Zinc oxide is also found in some cosmetics. In makeup, it is used as a colorant and bulking agent. I was surprised to learn that zinc oxide is safe to use as a colorant in products used on one’s lips.

I had always heard that zinc oxide cream was harmful if swallowed. It turns out that in cosmetics, it has to meet certain specifications. Zinc oxide is also used as a colorant for drugs.

Post 2

When I was a teen, I had problems with acne on my face. I used to use a skin treatment that contained zinc oxide. For me, using zinc for acne made a big difference in the way my skin looked.

It’s hard enough being a teen, so I was relieved to find a product that helped clear up my skin. I bought diaper rash cream with 40% zinc oxide. True, the stuff doesn’t have the greatest smell. But, the clear skin was worth it for me.

I applied the cream after my normal cleanser and used it like a facial mask. With the diaper rash cream, I used it once every few weeks unless I had a breakout in between.

Post 1

As the mother of an infant, I have tried practically every zinc oxide diaper rash ointment available. I learned to look for the actual amount of zinc oxide in the ointment. Sometimes the ‘extra strength’ ointments don’t contain much more than 1% over the ‘regular strength’.

I have been lucky enough that my baby very rarely has any skin irritation from her diapers. Even so, I keep a tube of the ointment everywhere I might need it. This is something I definitely don’t want to be without if I end up needing to use it.

I would suggest that any parents with children in diapers keep a back up supply of the diaper rash ointment that they like so they don’t run out.

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