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zinc oxide cream (Desitin and Others): Uses and Facts

What is zinc oxide?

Topical zinc oxide is a non-prescription (OTC) over-the-counter) mild astringent with weak antiseptic properties. It is a skin protectant that is used to treat and prevent various skin conditions including minor abrasions, burns, chafing, diaper rash, insect bites, and minor skin irritation.

What brand names are available for zinc oxide?

  • Ammens Original Medicated,
  • Ammens Shower Fresh,
  • Balmex,
  • Boudreaux’s,
  • Butt Paste,
  • Calmol 4,
  • Carlesta Skin Protectant,
  • Critic-Aid Skin Care,
  • Delazinc,
  • Desitin Creamy,
  • Desitin,
  • Diaper Rash Ointment,
  • Diaper Relief,
  • Dr. Smiths Diaper Ointment,
  • Johnsons No More Diaper Rash,
  • Novana Protect,
  • PNS Unna Boot,
  • Triple Paste,
  • Unna-Flex,
  • Vaginex Powder,
  • Yeast-X Powder, and
  • Znlin

Is zinc oxide available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for zinc oxide?


Why is zinc oxide prescribed to patients?

Topical zinc oxide products are used to treat and prevent minor skin irritations associated with diaper rash, burns, cuts, scrapers, allergic reactions, and insect bites. Topical zinc oxide is available without a prescription.

What are the side effects of zinc oxide?

No significant side effects have been reported with the use of topical zinc oxide products. Minor skin sensitivity or irritation has been reported in some individuals.

What is the dosage for zinc oxide?

Topical zinc oxide products may be applied to affected areas several times daily as necessary. Do not apply to large areas or on blistered or broken skin. Avoid contact with eyes and mucous membranes.

Which drugs or supplements interact with zinc oxide?

No significant drug interactions have been reported with topical zinc oxide.


Newborn babies don’t sleep very much.
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Is zinc oxide safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

Zinc oxide when used topically on unbroken skin is not expected to be absorbed systemically to an appreciable level. Appropriate use of topical zinc oxide during pregnancy is generally considered to be safe.

Appropriate use of topical zinc oxide during breastfeeding is generally considered to be safe.

What else should I know about zinc oxide?

What preparations of zinc oxide are available?
  • Topical Cream: 11.3%, 12%
  • Topical Cream Stick: 11.3%
  • Ointment: 10%, 13%, 13.4%, 20%, 40%
  • Paste: 16%, 20%, 40%
  • Powder: 9.1%
  • Solution spray: 10%
How should I keep zinc oxide stored?

Zinc oxide products should be stored at room temperature between 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F). All products should be kept away from children and pets.

How does zinc oxide work?

Zinc oxide works by forming a barrier on top of the skin that protects the area from moisture and irritants.

Topical zinc oxide is available in various formulations including cream, ointment, paste, powder and solution spray. Zinc oxide paste is commonly used to treat weeping or oozing associated with poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Zinc oxide is also used with titanium dioxide in sunscreen products.

When was zinc oxide approved by the FDA?

Topical zinc oxide products have been available in the US before 1938.


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