A revisit to the effects of zinc salt on skin burn wound healing to reflect the risks in current pharmaceutical care

J Dermatolog Treat. 2020 Sep;31(6):651-654. doi: 10.1080/09546634.2019.1639607. Epub 2019 Jul 16.


The lower limit of soluble zinc content that can possibly be applied onto a wounded skin as a healing promoter was not known. This study examined skin wound healing process of rats inflicted by partial thickness thermal burn wound as a function of applied soluble zinc contents (0.1 ml of zinc chloride solution 0.01% (w/w) or 5.0% (w/w)). The size, surface morphology and histological profiles of wound beds of untreated rats and those treated with zinc chloride solutions were characterized. A soluble zinc content as low as 10.5 μg/cm2 of skin negated skin wound healing when compared to the untreated rats. This was alarming as the commercial products currently in the market are formulated with a high level of zinc content. Albeit the zinc salt employed was water-insoluble, a minute fraction of soluble zinc might be available to the treatment sites. This could be partially responsible for the late adverse effects such as pruritis and inflammation reported with calamine/diphenhydramine lotion, medicated shampoo, Olay Complete defense moisturizing lotion and Zineryt® topical solution. The skin irritation was likely a resultant oxidative stress action of soluble zinc, where a small fraction could be adequate to negate the skin homeostasis.[Figure: see text]Key messagesZinc is essentially a cofactor for skin collagen formation.Soluble zinc content as low as 10.5 μg/cm2 of skin irritates skin and negates burn wound healing.Skin irritation of commercial products relates to minute soluble zinc content availability.

Keywords: Skin; wound; zinc.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Burns / drug therapy*
  • Burns / pathology
  • Burns / veterinary
  • Chlorides / pharmacology
  • Chlorides / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Skin / pathology*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects
  • Zinc Compounds / pharmacology
  • Zinc Compounds / therapeutic use*


  • Chlorides
  • Zinc Compounds
  • zinc chloride