Common in teenagers, acne can cause scarring and impair self-esteem and social interactions. Oil or hair-cell overproduction, bacterial infection, surging hormones, and inflammation are among the many causes of acne. Zinc is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial and decreases oil production in skin pores when taken orally or topically. Can zinc help you achieve a flawless complexion?

The study

It was a systematic review and meta-analysis of 24 studies (2,445 participants).

The results

Twelve studies showed that people with acne had lower zinc levels. Seven studies showed that oral and topical zinc both decreased acne formation. Seven studies showed that oral zinc improved acne but topical zinc did not, whereas four studies reported mixed results that overall suggested that topical zinc was more effective than oral zinc at reducing the number of lesions. All in all, this review found zinc, oral or topical, to alleviate acne.


Nearly a fourth of the participants taking oral zinc suffered from nausea. Topical zinc may be better tolerated than oral zinc in some people, but it also had occasional side effects — notably dryness and acne breakouts.

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This Study Summary was published on October 6, 2020.