Topical 10% zinc sulfate solution for treatment of melasma

Dermatol Surg. 2008 Oct;34(10):1346-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2008.34287.x. Epub 2008 Jun 27.


Background: Multiple modalities have been used in the treatment of melasma, such as bleaching agents, chemical peels, and antioxidants. Topical zinc sulfate has peeling and antioxidant effects.

Objective: The objective was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of topical 10% zinc sulfate solution in the treatment of melasma.

Patients & methods: This study was conducted at the Department of Dermatology & Venereology, Baghdad Teaching Hospital. Twenty-eight patients with melasma were treated with 10% zinc sulfate solution. Every patient was instructed to apply the formula twice daily and to be seen every 2 weeks for 2 months. The severity of melasma was assessed before, during, and after treatment with the melasma area and severity index (MASI). All patients were instructed to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF>30 before sun exposure during treatment and for the 3-month follow-up period.

Results: Fourteen patients were treated with 10% zinc sulfate solution. The mean MASI score before treatment was 9.45, which changed to 4.70 after therapy. This corresponds to a percentage improvement of 49.78% and was statistically significant (p<.0005). No side effects were reported apart from a mild stinging sensation reported in a few patients. Most patients maintained improvement 3 months after cessation of therapy.

Conclusion: Topical 10% zinc sulfate solution is a new effective, safe, and noncostly formulation in the treatment of melasma.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanosis / drug therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult
  • Zinc Sulfate / administration & dosage*


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Zinc Sulfate