The role of zinc in the treatment of acne: A review of the literature

Dermatol Ther. 2018 Jan;31(1). doi: 10.1111/dth.12576. Epub 2017 Nov 28.


Acne vulgaris is a chronic disease of the pilosebaceous units presenting as inflammatory or noninflammatory lesions in individuals of all ages. The current standard of treatment includes topical formulations in the forms of washes, gels, lotions, and creams such as antibiotics, antibacterial agents, retinoids, and comedolytics. Additionally, systemic treatments are available for more severe or resistant forms of acne. Nevertheless, these treatments have shown to induce a wide array of adverse effects, including dryness, peeling, erythema, and even fetal defects and embolic events. Zinc is a promising alternative to other acne treatments owing to its low cost, efficacy, and lack of systemic side effects. In this literature review, we evaluate the effectiveness and side-effect profiles of various formulations of zinc used to treat acne.

Keywords: acne; inflammatory disorders; systemic therapy; therapy topical; zinc.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / diagnosis
  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Administration, Oral
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Gluconates / administration & dosage*
  • Gluconates / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Zinc Acetate / administration & dosage*
  • Zinc Acetate / adverse effects
  • Zinc Oxide / administration & dosage
  • Zinc Sulfate / administration & dosage*
  • Zinc Sulfate / adverse effects


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Drug Combinations
  • Gluconates
  • Zinc Sulfate
  • Zinc Acetate
  • gluconic acid
  • Zinc Oxide