The Guide to Zinc Pyrithione

When unwanted guests crash the party on your skin, ZP restores peace

Zinc is an essential mineral named after the German word for "tooth-like" or "pointed" — and has some real bite when it comes to fighting acne-causing fungus and bacteria.

A celebrity element of the periodic table, zinc is a key ingredient in the U.S. penny, most multi-vitamins, and zinc pyrithione-based acne care with powerful antimicrobial and antifungal action. But be warned — not all topical forms of zinc effectively treat acne. Be sure to look for zinc pyrithione, and not zinc oxide (which is great in your sunscreen, but does not fight acne!).

• • •

Giving party crashers the boot

Your skin is a party of microorganisms. Everyone's having a good time until party-crashing microorganisms start multiplying and trashing your pores. P. acnes bacteria are common offenders, as are Pityrosporum, a fungus with a fondness for oily pores.

When Pityrosporum sets up camp, it can cause small uniform bumps, most commonly on the jaw, forehead, and hairline. Pityrosporum especially loves increased humidity and sweat, so if these conditions make your acne worse, it may be a culprit.

Zinc pyrithione works by blocking the multiplication of unwanted bacteria and fungi like Pityrosporum — going straight to a root cause of acne for many people. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, reducing irritation and redness that further aggravate acne.

Side effects

There are no common side effects associated with zinc pyrithione. Woohoo!

• • •

Learn more

That's it for today! Curious about other acne-busting ingredients? We’ve got you covered — Curology's team of dermatology experts has helped create a whole lot more to help you understand your skin. Check out our guides to azelaic acid, clindamycin, and tretinoin. See you around!


Read more guides

Share the Knowledge

Your subscription includes

Custom superbottle with a powerful combination punch
Personal chats with a provider who sticks by you
90-day money-back guarantee
(just cover shipping)