Hormonal Cystic Acne? Zinc Can Help Both Men and Women

Zinc is an essential trace element necessary for proper functioning of our entire immune system. It exists in high amounts within the skin, too. Incidentally, zinc is a popular supplement of choice for acne.

There is a lot of information available on the Internet and it can be downright confusing to get just the facts. This post will give you all the information you need to get started.

Zinc and acne research

Zinc gluconate turns out to be the zinc of choice for acne. Studies have shown zinc sulphate to not be very effective for acne, however.

How zinc affects acne

Research shows excessive androgen (male hormone) production mainly of testosterone and Dihydrotestosterone  (DHT) as the cause of hormonal acne. Androgens increase skin’s oiliness (sebum), thereby increasing clogged and infected pores (pimples).

Simply put, zinc seems to prevent “misuse” of androgenic hormones. Among its many roles, it is said to prevent conversion of testosterone to DHT.

Zinc is also anti-inflammatory and skin-healing, so you see less redness and faster healing (drying up) of pimples.

Who is zinc for?

Chin and jawline acne is a sign of acne related to reproductive hormones.There is a long history of research and empirical evidence showing zinc helps reduce or eliminate acne by modulating androgenic activity.

  • Women who want hormonal treatment for acne without using Oral Contraceptive Pills
  • Women with acne resulting from PCOS
  • Men and women with chin and jawline cystic acne
  • Women who develop pimples before menstruation (pre-menstrual acne)
  • Women who are seeing acne during breastfeeding months (prolactin)
  • Men and women who notice acne in the days following sex / masturbation
  • Men who are noticing hair thinning along with acne
  • People who are experiencing anxiety and depression along with acne

Dosage and side effects

Positive side effects of zinc, apart from calming the acne are – calming the skin (less redness), faster healing and happier mood.

Taking it right after food hampers absorption of zinc, so try to take it either 2 hours before meals or 3 hours afterwards.

In some people, zinc supplements can cause nausea and stomach upsets. This can be corrected by taking it some time after breakfast or if that doesn’t help, after lunch.

Even though zinc can taken up to 50 mg in a day, the recommended daily dose is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Doses around 15-25 mg per day are normally okay. If you do not see a major difference, try to up the dose to 40-50 mg elemental zinc per day before giving up on it.

Too much zinc can cause copper deficiency. Ideally, you would be taking a daily multi-vitamin along with a zinc supplement. One such multi-vitamin is Glaxo’s Becadexamin (Rs. 24 for 28 capsules). Read the post comments below for important discussions about copper-zinc chemistry.

Zinc deficiency test

A blood test for serum zinc and serum copper is a good idea before deciding to supplement with zinc. The zinc serum test costs about Rs. 650. It is best to ascertain your existing zinc levels with a blood test before taking up supplements.

Zinc supplements in India

Meat and fish are the best food sources of zinc. Zinc found in daily multi-vitamin isn’t enough to make up the amount you need to take for acne.

Supplement brand type of zinc elemental zinc price and availability Remarks
GNC Zinc 30 Zinc Picolinate 30 mg per tablet Rs. 999 fopr 90 tablets
Online, GNC stores
Contains 2 mg of added copper. Supplementing with extra copper in this way may not be a good idea because acne prone people are generally high on copper and low on zinc. Taking a zinc-copper supplement may not allow the body to tip the balance in favour of zinc.
GNC Zinc 100 mg Zinc gluconate 100 mg per tablet Rs. 1299 for 100 tablets
Online, GNC stores
thanks @limalkr.  This zinc is entirely zinc gluconate, which is what research studies seem to use most often to determine the effect of zinc on acne.  You could take 1/4 a tablet a day and make a bottle last a year.
Vitamin Shoppe Zinc 50 mg Zinc Gluconate, Oxide, Aspartate 50 mg per tablet Rs. 1029 for 100 capsules
You could take 1/2 a tablet a day and make a bottle last 6 months.
Zincolak Zinc sulphate 137.5 mg 50 mg medical stores thanks @dennisdips
Zincadd Zinc sulphate 137.5 mg 50 mg medical stores
Zincup 50 mg Rs. 33 for 10 tablets
medical stores
Made by Mapra Laboratories.
Zinconia syrup Zinc acetate 20 mg per teaspoon Rs. 60 for 100 ml
medical stores
Made by Zuventus Pharma. Other syrups in the same range include Zincup, Zioral, Zincris, Zemin. Zinfort, Zincogrand, Ozinc, Zincoday, Addrovit Z, Syrup ZN
Z&D Zinc gluconate 20 mg per tablet Rs. 22 for 7 tablets
medical stores
Made by Dr. Reddy’s. It is also available as dry powder suspension.

Also read  the comments to this post to know more options and their suitability.

What now?

Zinc is a promising mineral for acne, but it doesn’t seem to clear all forms of acne. Still, it is worth a shot.

One way to go about it would be to start with 25-30 mg of elemental zinc per day. Do this for a month or so. If you see positive results and no bad side effects, continue for a few more months until skin is decidedly clear. Note that the amount of elemental zinc in a supplement may be different than the amount of the zinc compound (e.g. zinc gluconate) in it.

Continue to use non-comedogenic skincare products throughout. Then taper off the zinc supplement to zero or bare minimum dose.

If you are unsure about trying out zinc at your own risk, consult a doctor and then take it under their supervision. You do not need to see a specialist for this, a general physician (family doctor) may be able to tell you enough.

Disclaimer: if you choose to use zinc, please do so taking full responsibility for your own well-being. Supplements can have different effects on people and it is not reasonable to expect us to take responsibility for everyone.

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