As a topical or an oral treatment, zinc may reduce the facial redness and irritation of rosacea. Rosacea is a progressive inflammatory skin disorder characterized by flushing, itching or increased sensitivity around your cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. In its advanced stages, rosacea may cause small pustules or papules to form in the inflamed areas. According to a study published in the July 2006 issue of the "International Journal of Dermatology," zinc may be used effectively under medical supervision to reduce the symptoms of rosacea.
Zinc has served as a home remedy for wound treatment for centuries, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. Found in shellfish, beef, poultry, legumes, cheese and other foods, this trace mineral plays vital roles in cellular structure and function. As an antioxidant mineral, zinc may help protect your skin against the harmful effects of free radicals, substances that can damage cells and accelerate the aging process, UMMC notes. Zinc sulfate, a form of zinc, has been used as an oral treatment for acne and other skin conditions. Zinc sulfate may also help reduce the inflammatory symptoms of rosacea. Because zinc may interact with other medications you’re taking for rosacea, you should consult your dermatologist before trying zinc sulfate to treat your symptoms.
In a study of the benefits of zinc for rosacea treatment, K.E. Sharquie and colleagues found that a group of 25 participants with rosacea at the Baghdad Teaching Hospital showed improvement in their symptoms after taking zinc sulfate supplements daily for three months. Participants reported few side effects from zinc sulfate other than mild stomach upset. The authors conclude that zinc sulfate is an effective and safe treatment for rosacea symptoms. More clinical research is needed to confirm the results of this study. Ask your dermatologist about using zinc sulfate to improve the appearance of your skin.
In the Baghdad Teaching Hospital study, participants took 100 mg of zinc sulfate daily for rosacea. According to the UMMC, the therapeutic range for supplemental zinc is 30 mg to 60 mg daily for men and 30 mg to 45 mg daily for women. The recommended dietary allowance for zinc, or the amount you should get each day from the foods you eat to sustain healthy body function, is 11 mg for men ages 19 and older and 8 mg per day for females 19 and older. Drugs.com advises that you avoid taking zinc sulfate with foods that are high in calcium or phosphorous, such as milk products, legumes or peanut butter. Calcium and phosphorous can interfere with your body’s absorption of zinc. Although zinc sulfate has few side effects at the recommended doses, it may cause gastric disturbances, Drugs.com cautions. Consult your doctor before taking more than the recommended dietary allowance of zinc.
Zinc provides benefits as a topical treatment for rosacea. According to statistics published in the September 1, 2009, issue of “American Family Physician,” exposure to sunlight can trigger flare-ups of rosacea in 81 percent of people who suffer from this condition. To protect your sensitive skin outdoors, Constance Goldgar, M.S., PA-C, recommends that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a dimethicone or simethicone base that contains zinc oxide.
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- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zinc
- PubMed.gov: Oral Zinc Sulfate in the Treatment of Rosacea
- "American Family Physician"; Treatment Options for Acne Rosacea; Constance Goldgar, M.S., et al.; September 1, 2009
- Drugs.com: Zinc Sulfate Medical Facts
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Micronutrient Information Center: Zinc
Anne Tourney specializes in health and nutrition topics. She is a registered nurse with experience in medical-surgical nursing, behavioral health and geriatrics. Tourney earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Regis University.