Zinc For Acne Scars: How Does It Work?

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Zinc is one of the essential nutrients your body needs for good health.

It supports the immune system by fighting off pathogens and other harmful cells. 

Apart from playing an important role in various metabolic and enzymatic activities in the body, studies have been done to learn about its role in treating acne.

Its antioxidant properties are known to reduce inflammation and kill acne bacteria.  

In this article, we will look at the benefits and uses of Zinc, and how to use it for acne scars.

We will also learn about the various side effects and precautions of using Zinc for acne scars. 

How Does It Work?

Zinc works by regulating the immune system. Isn’t it what we don’t want? Bear with me for a while. 

Acne is caused by the Propionibacterium bacteria that live on the surface of our skin.

Normally, they are pretty harmless. They might actually help absorb some of the oil produced by our glands. 

Things become difficult when these bacteria get trapped into the pores.

This is when they start multiplying, which leads to an infection. 

Our immune system quickly reacts and tries to fight these cells, but these cells release a substance that makes the cells in our body look like bacteria cells.

What happens as a result is that our body starts fighting its own cells, and things quickly get worse.

Zinc suppresses the immune system and prevents it from attacking our own cells.

It prevents the immune system from launching a full-blown attack on our own bodies. 

Does Zinc Help With Scarring?

zinc tablets for acne scars

There are many properties in Zinc that help to fight acne – 

1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Zinc is known to have anti-inflammatory properties.

This helps in reducing the redness and inflammation associated with acne. It also helps in lightening acne scars. 

Not only acne scars, but zinc’s anti-inflammatory properties also make it a suitable solution for skin conditions like rosacea, melasma, and eczema. 

2. Antioxidant Properties

Zinc is also known to have antioxidant properties that help fight dirt, dust, oil, and bacteria that can accumulate within the skin glands and clog pores.

Clogged pores can cause acne breakouts. 

Zinc also activates omega-3 fatty acids in the body, which in turn help fight inflammation associated with the scars.

In addition, Zinc regulates the production of keratinocytes, which when produced in excess, can lead to clogging of pores. 

Zinc also lowers the impact of androgens on the production of sebum.

It helps in regulating the cell cycle.

Since sebaceous glands become active during puberty, taking a dose of zinc during that period can help in reducing the amount of sebum produced by the glands.

3. Antibacterial Properties

Studies have shown that Zinc’s antimicrobial nature helps to kill Propionibacterium acnes and prevent the growth and re-growth of bacteria that cause acne.

Since Zinc is a mineral rather than an antibiotic, bacteria are not able to build a resistance to it. 

Zinc helps the proteins to convert Vitamin A into retinol, a compound that can help in killing acne-causing bacteria and repair scars that are produced as a result of breakouts. 

Zinc is considered a safer alternative to antibiotics since it doesn’t cause digestive problems and issues with blood pressure like most steroids.

It is also considered safer than most common injections and corticosteroids.

Zinc promotes the growth of white blood cells that help in fighting bacteria.

A combination of zinc, selenium, and Vitamin E is often used by dermatologists to repair infected sebaceous glands and damaged cells. 

A study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology in 2012 found that Zinc when consumed orally can reduce inflammation and prevents the growth of bacteria that cause acne. 

How Much Zinc Should I Take For Acne?

The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements suggests different amounts of Zinc for different age groups and sex – 

  • Birth to 6 months – 2 mg
  • Infants 7-12 months – 3 mg
  • Children 1-3 years – 3 mg
  • Children 4-8 years – 5 mg
  • Children 9-13 years – 8 mg
  • Teens 14-18 years (boys) – 11 mg
  • Teens 14-18 years (girls) – 9 mg
  • Adults (men) – 11 mg
  • Adults (women) – 8 mg
  • Pregnant teens – 12 mg
  • Pregnant women – 11 mg
  • Breastfeeding teens – 13 mg
  • Breastfeeding women – 12 mg

It’s good to keep a note of the amount of zinc you are getting from the food you eat.

Our body is able to absorb Zinc from foods more easily than from supplements, just like all other nutrients. 

What Type Of Zinc Is Good For Acne?

text reading what type of zinc is best for acne scars

There is no common standard when it comes to the type of zinc that is best for us. 

A study published in 2012 reports that consuming Zinc orally helps in fighting bacteria and inflammation associated with acne.

Another study reports that consuming Zinc orally also helps in treating mild acne.

Both the reports indicated that oral consumption of Zinc causes nausea and vomiting. 

Topical application is known to have fewer side effects, but it isn’t as effective as oral consumption.

Topical Zinc can help reduce sebum production and help in killing acne-causing bacteria. 

It’s best to consult a doctor regarding the type of Zinc that is best for you.

It usually depends on the severity of acne, your diet, and your skin type. 

Include It In Your Diet

zinc when included in diet can help acne

NIH states that these foods are good sources of Zinc –

  • Oysters
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Dairy products

Including Zinc in your diet is the best way to consume it.

You can make dietary changes accordingly to incorporate more amount of Zinc in your body. 

Certain plant-based foods contain phytates that can inhibit the absorption of Zinc in the body.

It’s best to consume Zinc from animal-based sources for increased absorption.

Side Effects Of Zinc For Acne

Although Zinc is good for the body, its excessive use can lead to side effects.

The maximum amount of Zinc recommended for adults is up to 40 mg and for teens is 34 mg.

These are some of the side-effects that occur due to overconsumption of Zinc – 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Low copper levels
  • Lower immunity
  • Low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)

Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. 

Should You Take Zinc Every Day?

Incorporating 15-30 mg of Zinc in your diet daily can help regulate your immune system, control acne, treat cold, and help with other body functions.

But be sure to not consume more than the recommended limit of 40 mg for adults and 34 mg for teens. 

How Long Does Zinc Take To Clear Acne?

Topical Zinc treatment for acne can take up to 12 weeks to see any visible results.

Oral consumption can take longer depending on the severity of acne, your diet, and your skin type. 

Are You Getting Enough Zinc In Your Diet?

Most people are able to meet their daily Zinc requirements through diet.

However, there are certain groups of people who may have trouble getting the recommended amount of Zinc – 

  • People who have undergone a gastrointestinal surgery of some kind, or people with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease. These conditions lead to more loss of Zinc in urine and difficulty absorbing Zinc.
  • Vegetarians, who are not able to consume Zinc from meat. Also, the Zinc consumed by them from plant sources reduces the absorption rate of Zinc in their body. 
  • Breastfeeding infants, because breast milk doesn’t have enough Zinc.
  • Alcoholics, as alcohol decreases the absorption of Zinc by the body and leads to more loss of Zinc in urine. 
  • People suffering from sickle disease.

Best Zinc Supplement for Acne

Keep in mind that incorporating Zinc into your diet is the best way to get the results you want.

If for any reason, you are not able to get enough Zinc from your diet, your doctor may recommend Zinc supplements. 

Only take Zinc supplements after consulting with your doctor, as consuming more than the required amount will lead to side effects. 

The different types of Zinc supplements vary in price and their effectiveness to treat acne. 

Zinc can be purchased from the medical stores as – 

  • Zinc Acetate – used as a dry or liquid food additive, this form of Zinc may help reduce inflammation caused by bacteria. 
  • Zinc Gluconate – available in tablet form, and used as a replacement for antibiotics.
  • Zinc Sulphate – used in compound form to treat Zinc deficiency.
  • Zinc Methionine – used to increase the availability of Zinc in the body.
  • Zinc Picolinate – helpful in fighting acne and boosting the immune system.

Zinc is also often combined with other minerals such as calcium and magnesium. 

Office of Dietary Supplements notes that one form is not better than the other. 

Zinc found in nasal sprays and gels is known to cause loss of smell. These effects are not observed in oral products like cold lozenges. 

Zinc is also present in some topical creams. 

Topical Products

If you suffer from mild acne such as whiteheads and blackheads and consume enough Zinc through supplements, you can take topical Zinc.

Topical Zinc is not very effective for people with Zinc deficiency.

Always do a patch test before applying any topical Zinc product.

Just apply a small amount of product on a small area of your skin away from your face, and wait for 24 hours. If no side effects occur, you can use it on your entire face. 

All zinc products have the capability to cause side effects. Always follow the instructions mentioned on the product label. 

These are some of the popular products containing Zinc – 

Dermatologists often suggest treatments combining Zinc with a BHA like salicylic acid to clear acne.

Creams and face wash often contain other ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, retinol to fasten the healing process.

Try our best home acne scar treatment remedies. 

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