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To reduce the redness, swelling and oil production by the skin that is associated with acne

Side Effects

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea if taken orally. Skin irritation, burning, stinging and itching if applied topically. See product packaging and leaflet for full details


Seek the advice of your doctor before taking oral zinc supplements. Speak to your healthcare provider for full details and warnings

The information on this website is intended for general educational purposes. You should talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist before you start using any kind of treatment.


What is zinc?

Zinc is a mineral that can be used as an acne treatment and is available to buy over the counter, without having to see a doctor or nurse.

Zinc can be found in topical treatments that are applied directly to the skin or as oral supplements, which are taken by mouth. It is advisable to speak to your healthcare provider before taking oral zinc supplements to ensure that there aren’t any health risks.

How does zinc work?

Zinc is an anti-inflammatory and can reduce the swelling and redness caused by acne. It can also help to reduce acne-causing oil production, although it is less likely to be effective in more severe cases of acne.

What are some of the side effects of zinc?

Side effects of zinc if taken orally include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Side effects of zinc if used in a topical treatment include burning, itching, stinging and skin irritation. Please see your product details for full instructions and warnings. If you are thinking of taking oral zinc supplements talk to your doctor first to make sure that there aren’t any health concerns.

General guidance on using zinc

As with most acne treatments, zinc takes time to work and you should allow for twelve weeks of use before determining whether or not the product has worked for you.

Example of an acne treatment regime

Treatments that contain zinc are often used as part of a wider acne treatment regime. These regimes involve using acne treatments and sometimes other products in an organised way with the aim of maximising the treatment’s effectiveness. It is important to remember that not all acne treatments can be used safely together and that you should seek the advice of your pharmacist or healthcare provider before starting or combining any treatments. Click here for an example of an acne treatment regime.

Please note that over-the-counter treatments are unlikely to be effective against severe acne. That is acne that consists of many lesions covering an area, with cysts and nodules being present, and is often scarring. If you have acne that has lasted for several weeks and is getting worse, is leaving scars or is affecting your mental health then you should arrange to visit your GP.