Zinc is one of the essential nutrients the human body needs for various body functions. It has been used for centuries to treat many health conditions. Now, zinc is so popular that you can find traces of zinc in almost every cosmetic product out there, such as lotions, dandruff shampoos, and sunscreens.
But nowadays it is really hard to believe that all the “natural” and “organic” treatment options that different producers are regularly pushing to the consumer’s throat. Frankly speaking, there are many BS going on by taking advantage of the consumer’s genuine concerns. Recently, I have encountered many clients who were worried about the effectiveness of taking zinc for acne scars, acne breakouts, and many other skin conditions. In this article, I am going to cover some backgrounds on the usefulness of zinc in treating skin conditions like acne breakouts.
What is Zinc? Is Zinc Good For Acne?
Zinc is one of the essential trace minerals our body needs to function as it is supposed to be. Minerals are essential for the human body and they play a significant role in keeping your body healthy and function properly.
There are 2 types of minerals – trace minerals and macrominerals. Macrominerals are minerals that our body requires in bigger amounts. Some examples of macro minerals are sodium, magnesium, calcium, etc. On the other hand, trace minerals are minerals which the body needs in small amounts. Iron, zinc, manganese, iodine, and copper are some good examples of trace minerals.
Zinc is a naturally occurring metal ion which can be found in many natural food sources. It plays a significant role in cell growth, regeneration, and division process. Zinc also helps maintain a healthy skin composition and accelerate the wound healing process. It is an immune booster. Our body needs zinc to grow and maintain the immune system. There have been many studies revealing the wonders of zinc. In a study conducted by the Monash University Australia, it has been found that regularly taking zinc orally for 5 months can significantly reduce the chances of getting cold and other common illness.
Different Forms of Zinc
Zinc is tough to be absorbed by our body unless it is attached to another substance. That is why zinc supplements come in many forms. This process is called ‘Chelating.’ Different types of zinc forms are good for different purposes. You can also take non-chelated zinc depending on your condition and needs. There are many forms of zinc available on the market that are explained below:
1. Zinc Gluconate
Zinc gluconate is one of the most prevalent forms of zinc supplements that can be found today. It is created by fermenting glucose. Zinc gluconate is the closest chemical substitute of zinc and the absorption rate of zinc gluconate is very low.
2. Zinc Sulfate
This is a non-chelated chemical form of zinc. Zinc sulfate is water soluble. The absorption rate of zinc sulfate is quite good in comparison to other forms of zinc supplements. It works best for the treatment of various skin conditions like acne.
3. Zinc Orotate
This is the most neutrally charged form of zinc supplement. In this form, zinc is chelated with orotic acid. Since it is neutrally charged, this form of zinc can easily pass through the membranes of cells. Furthermore, zinc orotate also contains antioxidant properties which is a plus point for your immune system.
4. Zinc Picolinate
Zinc picolinate is another popular form of zinc supplements. It can be absorbed better than most other types of zinc supplements available on the market. Zinc picolinate works best for severe acne breakout or other skin conditions.
How Does Zinc Reduce Acne?
- Zinc has strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which are super effective in eliminating bacterium that triggers acne. In many ways, it is far better than taking antibiotics. Taking antibiotics has a long-term toll on our body which is making our body antibiotic resistant.
- Zinc’s anti-inflammatory properties are super helpful in terminating infections on skin pores. It also reduces skin clogging and sebum exertion. There is no surprise that zinc is found on most of the anti-aging products.
- Keratin, a fibrous protein, is often responsible for causing acne breakouts. Zinc reduces the keratinocyte activation process, which reduces the chances of acne breakout.
- Zinc is super beneficial to your hair and skin. It works as a natural blocker of dihydrotestosterone or DHT, a hormone that is responsible for hair loss and sebum production.
Zinc Deficiency Symptoms
It is very hard to have zinc deficiency since zinc is widely available in natural food sources, especially in North America. Unless you are malnourished severely, you shouldn’t have zinc deficiency. The symptoms of zinc deficiency are the following:
- Skin hyperpigmentation
- White spots on nails
- Alopecia or Loss of hair
- Low libido
- Frequent stomach issues like diarrhea
Natural Sources of Zinc
Zinc is easily found in most of our natural diets. However, if you have zinc deficiency, here are the best foods high in zinc.
- Crab & Lobster
- Red meat
- Dairy foods
- Dark Chocolate
- Whole Grains
There are many other foods where you can find your daily required zinc.
The Bottom Line: Does Zinc Help Acne?
Since 1970, there have been many studies on the effect of zinc for acne scars, acne breakouts, and many other skin conditions. Most studies have proven that oral zinc has benefits regarding tackling acne breakout problem. However, this case is not so clear-cut with respect to topical zinc. Various studies have shown equivocal or negative effects of topical zinc for acne.
Oral zinc is effective in reducing acne problem. However, they are not so effective as prescribed antibiotics from professional dermatologists. But using antibiotics has its own pros and cons.
There is not enough evidence to either acknowledge or refute the effectiveness of topical zinc against acne problem. You can also use zinc supplement for acne with other effective acne fighting options. However, taking zinc supplements whether orally or topically has other zinc benefits for skin as well.