The clinical effects of zinc as a topical or oral agent on the clinical response and pathophysiologic mechanisms of acne: a systematic review of the literature

J Drugs Dermatol. 2013 May;12(5):542-5.


This article reviews the published literature about the efficacy of oral and topical zinc as treatments for acne vulgaris. The medical literature was systematically reviewed to identify relevant articles. Each published study was assessed for pathophysiologic results and the quality of the clinical evidence the study provided based on Strength of Recommendation Taxonomy (SORT) criteria. Finally, the body of evidence for using oral or topical zinc in the treatment of acne was assessed, again using SORT criteria. A SORT strength of recommendation of B (inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence) appears to be appropriate for both oral and topical zinc. The preponderance of evidence suggests zinc has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects and that it may decrease sebum production.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Acne Vulgaris / physiopathology
  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Dermatologic Agents / pharmacology
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Sebum / drug effects
  • Sebum / metabolism
  • Zinc / administration & dosage
  • Zinc / pharmacology
  • Zinc / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Zinc