Can Zinc Oxide Have An Impact On Wound Healing?

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Here is a close-up view of a chronic interdigital ulceration of a patient with type 2 diabetes and poorly controlled blood sugar.
In less than 14 days, the patient had complete epithelialization of the wound due to a combination of daily zinc oxide treatments and local wound care.
By Jonathan Moore, DPM

Key Practical Considerations
Practically, zinc oxide is an affordable option that even your most non-compliant patients can easily apply at home. By actively facilitating absorption of moisture and odors within the wound, indications for zinc oxide are broad, including:
• post-inflammatory skin following surgery;
• post-matrixectomy/nail surgery;
• draining wounds;
• venous/arterial ulcers (with compression);
• interdigital wounds (does not cause maceration);
• vesicular dermatitis (eczema/tinea pedis);
• full thickness wounds;
• partial thickness wounds;
• heel fissures; and
• puncture wounds.
There are several commercially available products that have zinc oxide, including Dermagran wound cleanser/hydrogel/moisturizer, zinc paste bandages (Unna boot), Double Guard Skin Guard, Zinc Oxide adhering tape, Derma 50 and many diaper rash ointments.
Keep in mind that zinc oxide must be used in conjunction with good overall wound care that includes but is not limited to debridement, compression (venous stasis ulcerations), appropriate offloading, antibiotics and surgical intervention.

Final Notes
Clinically, zinc oxide keeps wounds moist and clean while facilitating wound healing. After cleansing of the wound with saline (along with indicated debridement), one may apply zinc oxide onto the wound in a thick layer followed by a non-adherent dressing or gauze.
Wounds are in constant evolution and though zinc oxide is an excellent and inexpensive tool for your armamentarium, keep in mind that wounds have different needs at different points in time.

Dr. Moore is a former University of Texas Diabetic Foot Fellow who currently practices in Somerset, Ky.

Dr. Steinberg (pictured) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics/Podiatry Service at the University of Texas Health Science Center.



1. Agren, MS, Steenfos, HH. Zinc Oxide. EWWA Journal 2001, Vol. 1, No. 1.

2. Agren, MS. Studies on zinc in wound healing. Acta Derm Venerol Suppl (Stockh) 1990; 154:1-36.

3. Portes WJ, Henzel JH, Rob CG, et. al. Acceleration of wound healing in man with zinc sulfate given by mouth. Lancet 1967:21:121.

4. Agren, MS, Krusell M, Franzen L. Release and absorption of zinc from zinc oxide and zinc sulfate in open wounds. Acta Derm Venerol. 1991; 71(4):330-3.

5. Agren, MS. Zinc oxide increases degradation of collagen in necrotic wound tissue. Br J Dermatol. 1993 Aug;129(2):221.

6. Stromberg, HE, Agren MS. Topical zinc oxide treatment improves arterial and venous leg ulcers. Br J Dermatol 1984; 111:461-8.

7. Agren MS, Chvapil M, Franzen L. Enhancement of reepithelialization with topical zinc oxide in porcine partial-thickness wounds. J Surg Res. 1991 Feb;50(2):101-105.

8. Agren, MS, Soderberg TA, Reuterving CO, Hallmans G, Tengrup I. Effect of topical zinc oxide on bacterial growth and inflammation in full-thickness skin wounds in normal and diabetic rats. Eur J Surg. 1991 Feb;157(2):97-101.

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Anonymoussays: October 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Great article. I am trying zinc oxide to heal bilateral lower extremity wounds on an elderly female patient and was looking for an informative article. Thank you

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