172: Why Use Zinc Cream For Skin Rashes

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Can zinc applied to your skin help skin rashes?

As you heard in episode #169, zinc is REALLY important for your skin!

People mostly focus on consuming zinc in their diet as well as getting additional zinc through supplementation. This is important because your body doesn’t make zinc… it must be consumed in some way so that your body has ample access to it.

But one often overlooked point in this conversation is the impact that zinc used topically can have on your skin.

Not just for general health, but also to potentially help reduce itchiness + inflammation too!

And this is why I created the Z+ Rebuilder skin cream… because of how helpful zinc can be.

So let’s talk about how topical zinc can be helpful and the different ways you can add it to your protocol!

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In this episode:

  • Benefits of zinc applied topically to your skin
  • Where zinc is stored in skin tissue
  • How potent is topical zinc to sun exposure?
  • Can zinc help with itchy, inflamed skin?
  • Understanding dry skin + its connection to zinc
  • How to use zinc topically


Zinc is found in the epidermis at a concentration of five times more than in deeper skin layers.

Research demonstrates that zinc status may play a role in your skin’s ability to hold in moisture + avoid being so itchy.

Zinc skin cream

Why Use Zinc Cream For Skin Rashes (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Welcome back to episode #172 of the Healthy Skin Show!

In today’s episode, I want to dive deeper into the benefits of the mineral zinc for your skin. As you might recall, I talked about the benefits of zinc (and why your body absolutely needs it for healthy skin) in episode #169.

Most people think that zinc is a supplement that can be beneficial for their skin and immune system.

But few realize that zinc has the capacity to be absorbed into the epidermis (that’s the outer layer of your skin) to help support your journey to rebuild healthier skin.

And it can help calm and soothe angry, itchy skin too!

So let’s explore what the research tells us so that you can decide if using zinc topically would be a helpful tool on your journey.

Woman imagining living in a world without Zinc

Can Zinc Be Absorbed Into Your Skin?

It shouldn’t be all that surprising that your skin has some absorptive capacity especially given that your skin is also a storage site for zinc.

Though zinc is found in both the epidermis and dermis layers of your skin, five times more zinc is found in the epidermis stored in basal keratinocytes and even your hair follicle cells.(1)

Its presence in the skin isn’t an accident or just some far off place to store extra zinc.

Zinc serves several roles within the upper layer of skin including helping to “stabilize cell membranes”, playing its part as a required cofactor for certain enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) as well as supporting skin cell proliferation during wound healing.(1)

And as you might be aware after buying a natural sunscreen, zinc can also protect your skin from both UVA and UVB sun rays. It’s one of the only ingredients aside from avobenzone with that capacity which is why it’s a common natural ingredient.(2)

As I already mentioned, zinc can be absorbed into the skin — specifically the epidermis (or outermost layer of skin) thus increasing the level found there. But topical zinc’s impact on your overall body stores and other levels used for the body’s various functions is pretty much nonexistent.(3,4)

So I wouldn’t recommend topical application of zinc as an appropriate substitution for zinc consumed orally from food or supplements.

But I’m not saying that applying topical zinc isn’t worth it.

For my friends who have skin problems, using both routes could allow you to optimize different areas of the body simultaneously especially if your overall need is quite high.

Given that the skin is the lowest priority on the organ totem pole, topical application could potentially give it a nice boost over oral supplementation alone.

Topical zinc cream

Use Of Topical Zinc For Skin Inflammation + Itchiness

There are so many potential reasons why topical zinc could be helpful, so let’s talk about a few of them!

Aside from the benefits I touched on before, zinc can be helpful to reduce inflammation and itchiness which many clients in my private practice struggle with.

That’s why it’s imperative to assess your body’s need for zinc even beyond what your labs indicate.

The use of topical steroids (along with other forms of corticosteroid exposure) is to reduce inflammation at the level of the skin in most chronic skin conditions.

And as a consequence, using topical steroids contributes to the depletion of zinc from your body.(5)

Though it remains unclear if topical steroids deplete zinc directly within the skin, adding it to your topical regimen (and even potentially your protocol) could be helpful.

When it comes to itchy skin, topical zinc may be helpful. This can be due to zinc’s ability to better support and stabilize mast cells.

Less histamine, less itching, right?

One interesting thing to consider… as a kid, I knew calamine lotion as something to use for poison ivy and other instances of itchy skin.

Guess what’s in calamine?

That’s right… zinc.

But I caution you against expecting magical relief because itchy skin can also be a sign of deeper issues. For example, H.pylori infection, gut dysbiosis, low Phase 2 liver detox nutrients, or even excess histamine triggered by various factors.

Woman washing her face

Zinc + Better Skin Hydration?

Got dry, flaky skin?

And skin that gets itchier the drier it gets?

You’re not alone!

Many people struggling with eczema and psoriasis often complain about dry skin and purchase all sorts of moisturizers in an attempt to keep their skin from drying out so much.

The reason this happens is due to something called Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL).

Most people talk about TEWL when discussing eczema, but it’s also a real problem for those with psoriasis to especially in the areas affected by plaques that appear to show higher TEWL.(6)

Essentially your skin barrier function is poor and unable to retain hydration. This is tied into the concept of leaky skin and is important to understand dry, flaky skin is a daily problem.

Skin barrier “leakiness” and as a consequence TEWL, is greater at night due to your skin having its own circadian rhythm! This partially explains the increase in dryness and itchiness when you’re headed to bed (or wake up in the middle of the night).(7)

This drop in skin barrier function is more pronounced as one ages and exacerbated when zinc is low.(8)

This might be a bit of an aside, but one small study from 2017 looked at zinc serum status in patients with varicose veins in the legs who struggled with itching. What they found was pretty remarkable!(9)

In the group of varicose vein patients, “TEWL was significantly higher in the patients experiencing itching” while “zinc level was significantly lower in the patients with itching”.(9)

If you put aside that this study wasn’t necessarily looking at a chronic skin condition we often talk about, it’s likely that the same issues would be present in those with skin rash complaints. The authors of the study made note of issues with TEWL, dry skin and itchiness often seen in atopic dermatitis.

With all this said, low zinc levels may be one contributory factor that drives Transepidermal Water Loss.

But what’s even neater is that some research shows that application of zinc topically can also reduce TEWL as well as potential irritation and redness.(10)

That’s why I think that topical zinc in conjunction with appropriate amounts of zinc in your diet and supplements could be a worthwhile addition to your protocol (under the guidance of your practitioner).

Woman applying zinc skin cream

How To Use Zinc On Your Skin

My experience personally using zinc on my skin has been REALLY eye-opening.

Though I’ve not had rashes on my hands when I learned about the benefits of topical zinc, I have used it in spots where I’ve been scratched or have scratched myself in the middle of the night as well as on scraps.

I was quite surprised at how much faster the topical zinc helped these areas return to normal again!

And that’s why I’ve done (and continue to do) so much research on zinc.

Its potential to help with chronic skin issues is pretty cool and it’s why when I had the idea to create a line of products called Quell, I just had to create a product with zinc.

All I did was apply a light coat of Z+ Rebuilder to these areas 2-3 times a day. Applying too much will cause the area to appear white (because of the zinc) so a little goes a long way.

Within a couple of days, the scratches or scrapes were barely there which really surprised me (because normally they would take several days to go away on their own).

Several clients with hand eczema found a light spot application on their problem areas to be helpful.

Another client started using it on blemishes she was getting from wearing a face mask — and again, it helped them clear up quickly.

It’s been neat to get such positive feedback about the power of using zinc topically!

So if you decide that you want to try out the Z+ Rebuilder yourself — head over to www.Quellshop.com and use the coupon code QUELL10 to get 10% off your first order.

And if you’re excited for me to share more research with you on zinc… more is coming your way so stay tuned!

This definitely won’t be my final podcast digging into the benefits of zinc for our community.

Remember before you start supplementing, check out episode #169 about appropriate limits and also consider talking to your practitioner about what dosage would be safe for you.

Leave your questions and comments below so we can keep the conversation going!

If you found this conversation fascinating on topical zinc, definitely share this episode so that you can help educate someone else struggling with itchy, dry skin rashes on something more natural like zinc that could really help them!

Thank you so much for turning in and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode!

Woman reading reference books


  1. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/minerals
  2. https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/imperfect-protection/
  3. https://www.karger.com/Article/PDF/247982
  4. https://academic.oup.com/toxsci/article/118/1/140/1664509
  5. http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productid=107&pid=33&gid=000728
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6536057/
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15373590
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32009050/
  9. https://jphcs.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40780-017-0092-9
  10. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.0926-9959.2001.00002.x

Zinc is found in the epidermis at a concentration of five times more than in deeper skin layers.

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS

Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS is an integrative Clinical Nutritionist and the founder of Skinterrupt. She works with women who are fed up with chronic gut and skin rash issues discover the root causes and create a plan to get them back to a fuller, richer life.

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