Zinc is a trace element present in every cell in the body. It is essential for many biological functions including taste, smell and appetite. Zinc also helps you heal, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is vital for fertility, growth, cell division, vision and the immune system. Because zinc is involved in so many bodily functions, it has many uses. Zinc oxide powder and zinc sulfate are combined with different ingredients to make creams for various skin conditions. Always consult your doctor before using one for medical purposes.
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Zinc oxide is combined with other ingredients to make a sunblock cream. Zinc oxide sunblock provides sun protection and helps to prevent premature aging. Overexposure to the sun causes wrinkles, skin damage and skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Zinc oxide sunblock cream is a chemical-free physical sunblock that reflects UVA and UVB rays of the sun. It is good for people who are allergic to chemical sunscreens.
Zinc creams can be used to treat acne, according to the National Institutes of Health. Zinc is safe and effective, without any reported side effects, in treating acne vulgaris. Zinc is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps reduces acne swelling. A January 2000 study by the Department of Dermatology at Hammersmith Hospital in London found zinc cream to be equally as effective at treating acne as benzoyl peroxide cream. The zinc cream had an advantage in that it did not cause excessive dryness or peeling.
Zinc oxide in diaper rash cream soothes and protects babies’ skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also be used to prevent diaper rash on normal baby’s skin that does not have diaper rash. Zinc oxide is a thick paste that provides a long lasting barrier between your baby’s skin and the diaper. Babies have sensitive skin and the environment in a diaper is filled with moisture, urine and stools. The diaper also rubs back and forth on baby’s bottom, which can cause irritation.
Dermatitis describes inflammation of the skin. The various types of dermatitis include atopic dermatitis (eczema), contact dermatitis (rash from an irritant) and poison ivy. Zinc is an anti-inflammatory and soothes the skin. Zinc cream can be applied to skin infected with poison ivy. It is also an effective agent for wound healing.
A 2008 double blind study by the Department of Dermatology at the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran treated 47 patients suffering from eczema with two different creams. One cream contained 0.05 percent clobetasol + 2.5 percent zinc sulphate, while the other cream contained only the clobetasol. They found the zinc cream more effective at treating eczema than the clobetasol cream.