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Calamine: Is It Effective Against Acne?

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Jen Mallari · Updated Jul 26, 2022

    Calamine: Is It Effective Against Acne?

    Calamine is a topical medication used in providing relief for skin irritations like itching, pain, eczema, measles, insect bites, sunburn, poison ivy, chickenpox, and other minor skin issues. It works by drying out minor skin irritations and providing relief upon application onto the affected area of the skin. In some cases, calamine for acne may be an effective treatment, but it may also cause overdrying and make acne worse.

    Calamine is classified as a topical dermatological medicine for anti-inflammatory and antipruritic purposes. It comes in three formulations: local, topical, and lotion — the most common among the three is the lotion. 

    While this medication is commonly used for treating minor skin conditions, it has other uses as well. For example, since calamine lotions contain zinc oxide in them, they may provide some relief for acne. 

    Zinc oxide in calamine lotions helps in drying minor skin issues, specifically skin that is oozing after contact with poison ivy, poison sumac, or poison oak. Also, it has antimicrobial properties which can be effective in killing microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, or protozoans. 

    Do take caution when using calamine for acne as few studies have been able to support any benefits. Calamine may even worsen acne due to its drying properties. 

    Is Calamine Effective Against Acne?

    Despite being an ingredient in many effective acne medications, calamine is not a potent acne-fighter. Calamine contains an element called zinc oxide. Topical zinc may provide relief from itch and irritation but it has little to no effect on acne itself.

    According to one study, topical zinc mixed with other agents are effective against acne, possibly due to zinc’s anti-inflammatory properties. It may also reduce sebum production on the skin. However, given that only a few studies tackle the efficacy of zinc (combined with other agents) against acne, there is not enough evidence behind calamine alone as an effective treatment for acne. 

    In addition, using calamine for acne may have negative effects on the skin. Why? Calamine lotion may dry active and non-active acne at a fast rate since it reduces excess sebum on the skin. When skin becomes too dry, acne may worsen. Dry skin is irritated skin, and irritated skin leads to more acne. 

    Tips When Using Calamine

    When using calamine for acne take note of the following procedures:

    Calamine lotion:

    • Shake the bottle of calamine lotion before opening. 
    • Grab a small piece of cotton and moisten it with the lotion. 
    • Use the small piece of moistened cotton and dab it onto affected areas on the skin. 
    • Let the medication sit on the skin until it dries. 

    Calamine ointment:

    • Apply the ointment on affected areas of the skin and rub gently. 

    For proper dosing, always follow what your doctor’s prescription. If you do not have a prescription, you may follow the dosage that is indicated on the product’s box. The frequency and amount of medication that you need to put on your skin will vary depending on the severity of the skin issue. 

    Safety Tips When Using Calamine 

    When using calamine for acne, be cautious in applying the medication directly as this can dry the skin quickly. 

    Discontinue use if your acne becomes worse, or if your skin develops rashes or other skin irritations. 

    Lastly, do not take this medication orally (by mouth) and avoid the eyes, nose, rectum, and genital area. 

    Key Takeaway

    If you would like to use calamine for acne, do proceed with caution as this may worsen your skin condition. It would be advisable to use other acne care products instead, ones that contain ingredients such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide since these are proven to be effective against acne. Consult a dermatologist before using any treatment.

    Learn more about Acne here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Martha Juco, MD


    Written by Jen Mallari · Updated Jul 26, 2022

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