Zinc pyrithione for skin

Fight acne-causing fungus and bacteria with zinc pyrithione.

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We’re here to tell you what we know, but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider about your specific health concerns.
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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. Zinc is a key ingredient in the U.S. penny and most multivitamins. It's also used in 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!).

How does zinc pyrithione work?

zincPyrithione1

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.

Zinc pyrithione side effects

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

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Curious about other acne-fighting 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 on  clindamycin, azelaic acid, and tretinoin. See you around!

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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