Zinc Oxide (Topical)

Zinc Oxide is an over-the-counter topical agent used to protect and treat the skin against harmful effects or conditions respectively. Here is detailed information about this cream.


Zinc oxide is the name of a chemical compound, and also the active ingredient in the topical skin product by the same name. Zinc Oxide is marketed in the U.S. under various brand names including the following:

  • Boudreaux's Butt Paste
  • Delazinc
  • Periguard
  • Lassar's Paste
  • Ammens Medicated
  • Prevacare Personal Protective
  • Desitin
  • Balmex
  • Critic-Aid Skin Care Pack
  • Perishield
  • Medi-Paste
  • Hemorrodil

In Canada, Zinc Oxide topical is sold under the following brand names:

  • Silon
  • Zincofax Extra Strength
  • Zinc Oxide
  • Zincofax Fragrance-Free
  • Zincofax Original
  • Dr. Scholl's Medicated Foot Powder

Zinc oxide is available in the following dosage forms:

  • Ointment
  • Paste
  • Spray
  • Cream
  • Lotion
  • Powder
  • Dressing
  • Gel/Jelly

It helps to protect and heal irritated skin. This cream belongs to the therapeutic, protectant, and dermatological classes and is available over the counter.

Conditions Treated

  • Severely chapped skin
  • Minor burns
  • Diaper rash
  • Other minor irritations

Type of Medicine

  • Protectant, dermatological

Side effects

Zinc Oxide topical application route is very well tolerated and does not cause any unwanted effects on most users. However, it may cause effects in some people that may be entirely unexpected. Such side effects should be reported to a doctor immediately for medical attention if they are severe. They can also be reported to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Before using Zinc Oxide, the benefits of the medicine should be weighed against the possible risks. It is in the best interests of the person who will use this drug to be sure that the benefits of using the medication outweigh the risks.

A person who wants to use this medicine must make sure that they are not allergic to the product. Since there are various brand names for this product, the person using the medication must check labels to be sure they are not allergic to any one of the listed ingredients. If unsure, a doctor should advise on the safety of using this medicine.

A doctor should be notified immediately if after commencing treatment with this medicine, the following signs of allergy are seen:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Skin rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of tongue, lips, face, and throat.

Some users of Zinc Oxide experience a worsening of symptoms. This is not a severe problem and should go away as the body adjusts to the medicine. However, should the unwanted effects not go away, or become bothersome, a healthcare professional should be notified who should give tips on reducing or preventing the adverse effects.


Zinc oxide is presented in the following dosage forms and strengths.

Topical ointment

  • 10%
  • 20%
  • 40%

Topical powder

  • 9.1%

Topical cream

  • 11.3%


  • 16%
  • 20%


The person handling the zinc oxide topical medication should wash their hands thoroughly with soap before handling the drug.

A thin layer should be applied to the affected area several times a day as is necessary when this product is used to treat minor burn wounds, chapped skin, and other skin irritations. The entire area to be treated should be covered with the medicine, and then rubbed gently.

Zinc oxide usually leaves a fine white residue which cannot be thoroughly rubbed in. The whitish look on the skin should thus not worry a person using this drug.

If a doctor has given a specific prescription, zinc oxide should be used as advised. Otherwise, directions on the labels of the product should be followed. This medicine should not be used in larger amounts or for longer than recommended. Even though toxicity is quite uncommon when zinc oxide is used liberally, it may be a waste of the drug to use more than advised.

When Zinc oxide is used to treat diaper rash, the product should be used every time the diaper is changed. At bedtime or other instances when there can be a lot of time before diaper a change is done, zinc oxide should be reapplied.

A nappy should be changed as often as is necessary and the diaper area kept clean and dry to prevent a worsening of the skin rash. When wet diapers are removed, the skin should be washed and allowed to dry before putting on another diaper.

When the powder form of Zinc oxide is being used, it should be poured out slowly to avoid large puffs filling the air and choking persons who may be nearby. When the medicine is used on a baby, he/she should not be allowed to play with the medicine bottle.

Usually, the amount of medicine that will be used is determined by the strength of the drug. The number of doses taken per day, the time between the different treatments and the duration the medicine is used depends on the condition being treated. A doctor should be informed if symptoms do not improve after using this medication for seven days.

Missed Dose

Zinc oxide is used as needed and, therefore, it is unlikely to miss a dose. However, applying this topical product more liberally than is advised will not make the medicine more effective.


Using too much of Zinc Oxide on the skin is not likely to be dangerous. However, if someone accidentally swallows the medicine, immediate medical attention should be sought, or an emergency call made to the poison helpline at 1-800-222-1222.


A doctor who prescribes zinc oxide, topical application route, should be informed of all other medicines the person to use this product is using. This should include vitamins, minerals, natural products, prescription and over the counter drugs. This information is necessary for the healthcare professional to be able to determine interactions and advice accordingly. Even though drugs taken orally are unlikely to interact with topically applied medicine, a patient should not presume to know what combinations are safe.

As well, other medications should not be used in the area to be treated with Zinc Oxide unless a healthcare professional says it is safe to do so. Such drugs applied to the same location can interact with each other.

Disease interactions

Zinc oxide should not be applied to skin that has deep wounds or severe burns. Also if the surface is infected at the location where the drug is to be applied, a doctor's advice should be sought before use of the drug. Also, skin that is broken, or has large sores or severe injury should not be treated with Zinc oxide without a doctor's advice.

Food and Tobacco Interactions

Some medicine should not be used when food or specific meals have been eaten. Other drugs interact with tobacco or alcohol, and this is to be avoided when using the medicine. A doctor or pharmacist should be able to outline any such interactions with food, tobacco, and alcohol that Zinc Oxide may have.


If this medicine gets into a patient's eye(s), they should clean them with warm water and dab dry with a towel. This drug should be kept away from the eyes.

This drug is contraindicated for people who experience hypersensitivity.

If the condition for which zinc oxide is being used gets worse or does not improve after 7 days of use of medication, a doctor should be informed.

This medicine should not be used by persons who are allergic to zinc, lanolin, dimethicone, petroleum jelly, cod liver oil, mineral oil, parabens, or wax.

Zinc oxide is not antibacterial or antifungal, and a doctor should be informed if the skin is infected.

― Pregnancy Warnings

The safety of using this medicine during pregnancy is not known. A doctor's advice must be sought before using this drug during pregnancy.

― Breastfeeding Warnings

It is unknown whether zinc oxide can infiltrate into breast milk and affect a suckling baby. A doctor should be informed if a nursing mother wants to use this medicine.


This medicine should be stored in a closed container, at room temperature and away from moisture, direct light and heat. It should not be frozen.

It should be kept away from children and pets.

Expired medicine should be disposed of according to the advice of a healthcare professional.


Zinc Oxide has almost no side effects unless a user is allergic to any of the ingredients contained in the formulation obtained. Since there are many brands available for this medicine, a user must check out all the components included on the label they choose to purchase. Knowing what is contained in any formulation will help them determine if there are ingredients they are sensitive to.

If a person wants to use this drug but they are on any other medication and especially long-term prescriptions, they must inform their doctor. Some drugs become toxic when used in certain combinations. Even though zinc oxide does not interact with most medications, a person on other medicines should not assume it would be safe to add this drug.

Successful outcomes are seen with most medications if the advice of a knowledgeable medical professional is sought on proper and safe use of the drugs.

Last Reviewed:
December 25, 2017
Last Updated:
April 05, 2018
Content Source: