5 Incredible Zinc Oxide Benefits

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The use of zinc oxide is common for people who have certain skin conditions, but there are many other potential health benefits that you should know about.

What is Zinc Oxide?

Zinc oxide is derived from zinc, which is a basic metallic element, and is created by heating zinc and combining it with oxygen molecules. While this compound is commonly used in industrial applications and in the production of certain substances, it can also have certain impacts on human health, particularly when in the form of an ointment. [1]

Zinc oxide is considered safe and comes in the form of a very fine, white powder that can be applied to the skin or mixed with other carrier oils for topical use. This compound is able to sit on the surface of the skin, rather than being fully absorbed by it, forming a protective barrier that your body’s largest organ can benefit from. It is not safe to eat zinc oxide and is only intended for topical use.

Zinc Oxide Benefits

The most impressive benefits of zinc oxide include its ability to protect the skin from sunburn, helps treat acne, prevent certain infections, and slow down the aging process, among others.

Foods rich in zinc (shellfish, meat, legumes, seeds, nuts, dairy, dark chocolate, fish) on a wooden table

Food rich in zinc Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Protect Against Sunburn

The reason zinc oxide is so commonly found in sunscreens is that it is one of the best repellents of sunlight and UV radiation. Whereas the white streaks of zinc used to stay on the skin, protecting from the surface, recent developments in particle size help this compound absorb much more effectively, and can deflect much of the radiation that burns the skin. [2]

Rashes and Irritation

The anti-inflammatory capacity of this compound makes it an ideal home remedy for any sort of irritation or rash on the skin. Whether you suffer from psoriasis, eczema, rosacea or acne, using the powders and ointments of zinc oxide can provide rapid relief. [3]

Bacterial Infections

The skin is the largest organ in the body and is under constant attack from pathogens and other unwanted foreign particles. Fortunately, these bacterial infections can be defended against, as zinc oxide is known to protect the skin’s immune integrity. [4]

Healing Powers

The healing process takes many different forms, but one of the most important aspects is the formation of collagen, which is required for the production of new tissues. Studies have shown that zinc oxide is able to stimulate the formation of collagen, which can speed the healing process, while simultaneously defending against infection at the site of the wound. [5]

Anti-Aging Properties

There are also some antioxidant properties of this compound, which enables it to help slow down the process of oxidative stress in the skin. This means the reduced appearance of wrinkles, blemishes, and age spots, and even an increase in the elasticity of the skin, keeping you looking younger for longer! [6]


This beneficial compound can be used in various ways, including in the following:

  • Sunscreens
  • Powders
  • Creams
  • Moisturizers

The anti-inflammatory properties make it very versatile, and also gently on most skin. It is even recommended as an at-home remedy for diaper rash and is appropriate even for your baby’s sensitive skin. Zinc oxide ointments are the most widely available form of this compound, although it is also an ingredient in many cosmetic products and sunscreens.

Side Effects

There are very few side effects of using zinc oxide, although some allergic reactions are possible. This could manifest into the following:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Inflammation, rashes, swelling
  • Tingling

Discontinue use of the product immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Furthermore, with the development of new nano-particles of zinc oxide, more of this compound can be absorbed by the body, which could be dangerous if an excessive amount reached the bloodstream. For that reason, only use recommended amounts of this compound.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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