Calamine is a mixture of zinc oxide (ZnO) and ferric oxide (Fe2O3) and is the main ingredient in calamine lotion.
Calamine lotion is a topical cream often used to treat inflamed, red or itchy skin associated with conditions such as chicken pox, poison oak, insect bites and sunburn. Calamine is occasionally used as a topical acne treatment to help reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne lesions.
Calamine lotion appears to provide a few beneficial effects for acne prone skin. First, Calamine can act as a anti-inflammatory ant that may help reduce the appearance of acne lesions. Second, Calamine may have some antibacterial properties that can help reduce the growth of acne-causing bacteria, such as Propionibacterium acnes. The antibacterial properties of Calamine are likely because it contains lots of Zinc, which is toxic to many bacteria. Third, Calamine may act as a mild drying agent and this can help improve oily skin.
Many people have reported that topical Calamine treatments helped to improve their acne symptoms. However, there has been little scientific research to investigate how effective Calamine actually is for the treatment of acne. Topical use of Calamine products is generally safe when used as recommended.
Overall, Calamine may be helpful for some people with acne, but this treatment alone is unlikely to dramatically improve acne symptoms for most individuals.
Topical drying agents for acne. Bluefarb, et al. 1960.
Care or harm: exploring essential components in skin care regimens. Voegeli. 2010.
Zinc in skin pathology and care. Nitzan, et al. 2006.
Components Analysis and Antibacterial Activity of Calamine. Guo, et al. 2005.
Synthesis, characterization and antibacterial activity of ZnO nanoparticles. Ravichandrika, et al. 2012.