Zinc oxide is a simple combination of zinc and oxygen. It has been used historically in topical preparations for diaper rash, a variety of skin conditions and as an ingredient in sunscreen. Zinc oxide has a long standing reputation as a safe natural remedy. The body needs zinc for proper immune function and skin repair, among many other processes. Zinc oxide has other uses in industry and is also used as a food additive.
Benefits of Zinc Oxide
Zinc Oxide in Calamine Lotion
Likely you are familiar with calamine lotion. Calamine lotion, a combination of zinc oxide, ferric oxide, phenol, and calcium hydroxide, has been in use for literally thousands of years! It is an inexpensive preparation that is used to treat sunburn, bug bites, poison ivy, and chicken pox. Zinc oxide has astringent properties, and ferric oxide has anti-itch properties. The combination works well for a variety of skin disorders.
Zinc Oxide in Sunscreen
Zinc oxide is used in sunscreen to block UBA and UVB light. The zinc oxide will leave a white coating on your skin. Some sunscreen contains smaller particles of zinc oxide (nanoparticles) which do not leave your skin white. There is some controversy as to whether or not the nanoparticle zinc absorbs into the skin. Study results differ on this issue. To play it safe, if you use a lot of sunscreen on a regular basis, you might want to avoid the type with nanoparticles of zinc. Better yet, avoid being out in the sun when the UV light is strongest – 10 am – 3 pm, or wear lightweight long sleeves, long pants and a hat during the hours of peak sunlight.
Zinc Oxide Instead of Deodorant
Zinc oxide creams can be used as an aluminum free deodorant alternative! You will want to use the cream after a shower, before bed. Wear a t-shirt to bed that you do not mind getting white stains on. At first you may need this cream each night. Over time you may only need it every week or two!
Zinc oxide products are inexpensive (except for zinc oxide bandages, which can be pricey.) Look for products that do not contain petroleum. Choose natural zinc oxide creams. Better yet, make your own! You will need zinc oxide powder (look for non-nanoparticle zinc oxide powder) and a few other simple ingredients.
DIY Zinc Oxide Recipes
Simple Aloe - Zinc Gel
Mix together aloe vera gel and zinc oxide powder in equal amounts.
This is great to treat burns, acne and poison ivy.
Zinc Oxide Cream
Zinc Oxide Cream takes a little bit more work but you will know what your cream contains!
¼ cup organic coconut oil
¼ cup castor oil
½ cup shea butter
3 Tablespoons zinc oxide powder.
Melt the shea butter in a double boiler until just melted. Remove from heat. Add castor, add remaining ingredients. Use a stick blender to whip into a cream. Store in small glass mason jars.
This cream is especially good for use as a diaper rash cream.
Essential oils can be added to either of the above to increase healing and give a pleasant scent. If you are making a cream for a diaper rash cream, it is best to skip the essential oils which can be too strong for babies.
Lavender will add a nice scent. Tea tree will add antifungal properties to your preparation. Do not use citrus based oils (lemon, orange, bergamot, grapefruit, etc.) in any zinc oxide preparation used as a sunscreen as these can increase photosensitivity.
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