Zinc oxide should be familiar to anyone who has ever used a sunscreen or changed a baby’s diaper. This powerful mineral has been a common ingredient in both sunscreen and diaper rash ointment for years and now it is being used for a host of other conditions as well.
Everything from acne outbreaks to poison ivy to sunburn can be treated with zinc and it can also be particularly helpful in promoting the healing of wounds.
It is most commonly used as an ingredient in creams and ointments and can be found in a number of popular products. In order to ensure that you are getting the proper healing effect, you need to have a better understanding of exactly what this particular mineral does for the body.
How does zinc oxide work exactly?
Zinc works in a number of ways to provide healing for damaged skin. The most prominent of its many qualities is its ability to block both the UVB and long and short term UVA rays of the sun. These rays are responsible for aging the skin and can also result in the development of skin cancer.
Zinc oxide is the only substance known to block all three forms of UV rays. It does so by creating a protective barrier on the surface of the skin and reflecting the rays, which prevent them from penetrating the skin and doing damage.
Aside from sun protection, zinc oxide also has the ability help speed the healing of wounds. This is because zinc is known to synthesize collagen and promote the proper functioning of enzymes, both of which are required for wounds to heal properly.
When applied to wound sites, zinc can reduce overall healing time as well as providing a clean and moist environment which promotes healing. It also has astringent properties, which means it can help to shrink skin cells and reduce inflammation.
What other skin conditions can it help with?
First and foremost, zinc prevents sun burn and sun related skin damage. As an ingredient in a soothing ointment, it can also help to ease the inflammation and irritation of diaper rash and other allergic reactions. It can be used to treat the rash associated with poison ivy as well as the redness and burning of athlete’s foot. And its ability to reduce inflammation, draw out toxins and reduce excess oil production makes it a powerful tool against acne.
When most people think of zinc oxide they immediately picture a thick white paste that remains clearly visible on the skin after application. Strides in modern medicine and chemistry have taken this chalky mineral far beyond that level. It is now available in a number of products that are clear in color and soft to the touch for easy application.
For most conditions, zinc creams or ointments should be applied to the affected area several times a day as needed. For diaper rash, ointments with a concentration of up to 40% zinc oxide should be applied liberally at every diaper change until the rash has cleared.
Zinc oxide does have a shelf life however so you should pay careful attention to the “use by” date on any product. As a rule of thumb, zinc should be used within a year of purchase. After that time it will begin to lose its effectiveness.
How does it compare to traditional treatments?
Zinc oxide is one of the safest natural substances you can use, which is why it is incorporated into many popular diaper rash ointments. It has no known side effects and will not harm your skin like some synthetic ingredients.
Unlike many substances, both natural and synthetic, it is one of the few on which there is almost complete agreement across the board. Doctors and homeopaths cannot say enough about this wonder of nature and you should seriously consider adding it to your skin treatment arsenal for your own sake and your family’s.