The debate over zinc and acne has stirred controversy over the internet, some promising a magical acne cure and some arguing little to no benefits. Digging further into the medical research on zinc and acne, studies showed that taking zinc orally can improve your breakouts but the effects were very small. For the topical application of zinc, no studies could find any benefit to helping with acne breakouts.
Topical zinc doesn’t work:
While zinc is essential for maintaining healthy skin, it is not effectively absorbed by through the skin. Three peer-reviewed studies showed that topical zinc lotion is ineffective at treating acne. So make sure to avoid zinc creams that promise to clear your skin… they don’t work.
Oral supplements work:
Zinc pills are another story. By supplementing your diet with some extra zinc, you may be able to help clear your skin in a number of ways.
- Zinc boosts your immune system which can help your fight off the infection inside of your pore.
- It also acts as an anti-inflammatory subduing any redness or swelling associated with pimples.
- Some believe that acne is a symptom of a zinc serum deficiency, so by upping your zinc intake you reduce your pimples
One study in particular provides evidence that acne improved with oral zinc supplementation. It was performed in the 1970′s, but it did show that zinc was effective at treating severe and inflammatory acne.
Best practices for zinc and acne:
Do not rely on zinc as your primary acne treatment, but rather take a zinc supplement to help your skin heal quicker and to decrease inflammation:
- Take 20-40mg zinc supplement pill on an empty stomach everyday. If you experience any of the side effects mentioned above, decrease the dosage until it is tolerable.
- As zinc decreases your copper absorbtion, you should also take 2mg of copper everyday. Take the copper pill later in the day, also on an empty stomach.
Don’t take too much!
A prevalent mistake when taking zinc supplements is to take too large a dose. The maximum daily dosage should be no larger than 40 mg/day, but even this can cause harmful side effects so be careful about your intake. What are the side effects?
Side effects of zinc:
- For males, an increased risk of prostate cancer
- Decreased copper absorption (which is essential for your muscles and nervous system)
*These affects only apply to orally consumed zinc. No harmful side effects have been found for topically applied zinc. (But remember, topical zinc won’t help your breakouts!)
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