Zinc for Acne: The Complete Guide to Dosage, Benefits, and Side Effects

Zinc for Acne: The Complete Guide to Dosage, Benefits, and Side Effects

Acne, a widespread skin condition that affects millions, frequently leads a search for effective treatments. Zinc has emerged as a viable competitor among the many possibilities. 

Dermatologists and healthcare experts have been studying the usefulness of zinc for acne vulgaris since at least the 1970s. Zinc is a necessary mineral. That is, your body requires it to function effectively. Zinc has a role in skin health among its various functions.

First, let’s know, what is zinc.

What is Zinc?

Zinc, an important trace mineral, is involved in a variety of physiological activities within the body. It is essential for immunological function, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cellular health in general. 

While the body only requires a trace quantity of zinc, its influence on numerous systems, including the skin, is significant.

Zinc should be included in your diet. It’s mostly found in red meat, shellfish (like oysters), and chicken. Beans, seeds, nuts, and grains are all vegan options.

How Does Zinc Work?

Zinc influences skin health on various levels. It has anti-inflammatory qualities, which aid in the reduction of redness and swelling associated with acne lesions. Furthermore, zinc regulates sebum production, an excess of which can lead to acne development. 

Zinc helps the general health and resilience of the skin by influencing immune response and assisting in collagen formation.

Benefits of Zinc for Acne

Zinc and acne have been widely studied, with encouraging effects. Zinc affects skin health on several levels. It contains anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne lesions. Furthermore, zinc inhibits sebum production, which can contribute to acne breakouts.

Zinc for hormonal acne has been demonstrated to be very beneficial since it balances hormone levels and reduces acne flare-ups. Zinc can also assist with acne spots by speeding up the healing process and preventing new ones from growing.

Is Zinc Good For Treating Acne?

Yes, according to research, zinc is one of the most researched and effective in acne management, particularly for zinc-deficient people. Zinc can help promote cleaner skin by treating the underlying causes of acne, such as inflammation and increased sebum production.

When hair follicles get blocked with sebum, germs, and dead skin cells, acne develops. When your body generates a lot of sebum, it can cause irritation and blocked pores, resulting in skin lesions.

Acne symptoms commonly include:

  • Papules are little red pimples on the skin.
  • Pustules are little red lumps on the skin with a white, pus-filled tip.
  • Nodules are large lumps that form beneath the skin’s surface.
  • Blackheads are dark spots on the skin’s surface.
  • Whiteheads are little white pimples on the skin’s surface.

Zinc for Spots: Does It Help?

According to research, zinc may be effective in acne treatment, particularly for people who are zinc deficient. Zinc helps to address the underlying causes of acne, such as inflammation and increased sebum production, perhaps encouraging cleaner skin.

While studies have shown that zinc supplements are effective for treating acne, individual outcomes may differ.

How Much Zinc Should I Take to Treat Acne?


An adult’s recommended daily dosage is no more than 40mg. Depending on the severity of the acne, any dose between 40 and 150 mg is effective.

Most over-the-counter supplements only go up to 50mg, so combining them with a balanced diet should be enough. Zinc is available in a variety of forms, but the simplest for the body to absorb is oral zinc sulfate. 

Zinc can also assist with acne on the outside. Zinc oxide sunscreens can help heal your skin while protecting it from damaging UV radiation.

It is critical to approach zinc supplementation with caution, as excessive consumption might have adverse effects. Consultation with a healthcare practitioner is essential for assessing individual needs, identifying any weaknesses, and establishing a safe and effective dose that is suited to specific health objectives.

How to Use Zinc

Zinc Supplement

Zinc supplements come in a variety of forms, such as zinc gluconate, zinc acetate, and zinc sulfate. Dose recommendations vary, so it’s best to check with a healthcare practitioner to get the proper supplement and dose for you.

Zinc In Foods


Zinc-rich foods in the diet provide a natural source of this important element. A well-balanced diet benefits general skin health.

Some foods with high amounts of zinc:

  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Oysters (particularly high in zinc)
  • Crab
  • Lobster
  • Shrimp
  • Fish (such as salmon and tuna)
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Mushrooms (particularly shiitake)
  • Spinach
  • Kale

Zinc Topical and Creams

Topical zinc formulations, such as creams and ointments, provide a tailored solution for acne-prone skin. These can be directly administered to damaged locations, offering targeted advantages.

Other research on zinc as a topical acne therapy focuses on its efficacy when paired with other beneficial substances, generally topical antibiotics like erythromycin and clindamycin. 

Almost all of the research on topical zinc therapies to far has focused on zinc sulfate (a zinc and sulfur mixture) in conjunction with the antibiotic erythromycin. Once again, the research’s findings are mixed. Several studies demonstrate that topical treatments containing zinc and other pharmaceuticals can give the above advantages as well as decreases in acne-causing skin germs.

Potential Side Effects

While zinc is typically safe when consumed in the proper amounts, overconsumption might have negative consequences. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in certain situations, reduced immunological function are also possible adverse effects. When contemplating zinc supplementation, it is critical to follow suggested amounts and seek professional assistance.


The significance of zinc in acne control is diverse, comprising anti-inflammatory, sebum-regulating, and immune-modulating properties. Understanding how to include zinc into your beauty routine, whether through food sources, supplements, or topical treatments, allows you to maximize its advantages. 

As with any supplement, moderation is crucial, and consultation with a healthcare practitioner provides a personalized approach.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read this article on What Are the Benefits of Zinc for Liver Health?

*This information is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical or dietary advice tailored to individual needs.

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Dr. Kimberly Langdon

Kimberly Langdon

Dr. Kimberly Langdon has been an MD for 31 years, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place accolades for her Senior Research Project and Score of 98th percentile on a National Proficiency Test.

During her clinical career, she delivered over 2000 babies and specialized in minimally invasive procedures, menopause, endometriosis, menstrual disorders, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. After retiring from clinical practice, she founded a medical device company to commercialize her two patented and four patent-pending medical devices for both life-threatening and non-life-threatening infections.

Kimberly Langdon M.D.

Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Coologics, 2010-present
The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Doctor of Medicine 1987-1991
The Ohio State University Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency Program 1991-1995
Private practice 1995-2010

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu

Po-Chang Hsu, M.D., received his medical doctorate from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. During his medical school training, Dr. Hsu worked with various patients, including adult and pediatric patients with acute and chronic conditions. Dr. Hsu’s interests include neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, and sleep medicine.

Before medical school, Dr. Hsu finished a master’s degree at Harvard University and wrote a thesis on neuroimaging in schizophrenia patients at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated hospital. Dr. Hsu was also a part of the 2008 NASA Phoenix Lander Mission team, which sent a robotic spacecraft to the North polar region of Mars. Dr. Hsu also had research experience on neuroimaging in neonates at Boston Children’s Hospital, another Harvard Medical School-affiliated Hospital.

Since graduating from medical school, Dr. Hsu has worked as a full-time medical writer and consultant. In addition, he has experience writing and ghostwriting books and articles for physicians and health technology start-up companies. Dr. Hsu believes good communication between healthcare providers and patients creates the best results.


-Peer Reviewed Journal Article:
Kounaves, S.P., Hecht, M.H., West, S.J., Morookian, J.-M., Young, S.M.M., Quinn, R., Grunthaner, P., Wen, X., Weilert, M., Cable, C.A., Fisher, A., Gospodinova, K., Kapit, J., Stroble, S., Hsu, P.-C., Clark, B.C., Ming, D.W. and Smith, P.H. The MECA wet chemistry laboratory on the 2007 phoenix mars scout Lander. Journal of Geophysical Research. 2009, Mar; 114(E3): 10.1029/2008je003084.

-Poster Presentation:
2011 Harvard Psychiatry Mysell Poster Session; Boston, MA
Hsu, P.C., Rathi, Y., Eckbo, R., Nestor, P., Niznikiewicz, M., Thompson, E., Kubicki, M., Shenton, M.E. (March, 2011). Two-Tensor Diffusion Tensor Imaging of Acoustic Radiations in Schizophrenia

Dr. Nicolette Natale

Nicolette Natale

Dr. Nicolette Natale is a physician, with a background in Psychology, General Medicine, and English Literature, combining her expertise to provide readers with the most accurate, easy-to-understand, and comprehensive information regarding healthcare. She received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from Nova Southeastern University, and her bachelor’s in English Literature and Psychology from the University of Miami. Dr. Natale seeks to empower individuals with knowledge, fostering a greater understanding of holistic health and encouraging a proactive approach to well-being