Calamine Lotion for Acne

If you’re dealing with stubborn acne and are looking for a natural and inexpensive solution to calm redness, flatten the bumps, and soothe the itch, calamine lotion may be your answer.

A natural mineral that has been a skin saver for centuries, this common over-the-counter product is exceptionally advantageous when it comes to managing all sorts of inflammation on the skin.

An ideal option for anyone who wants a quick, commitment-free, and affordable fix, calamine lotion is simple to identify in the store – it’s a pink lotion often found alongside sunburn and other skincare products and is typically very inexpensive.

Therefore, if you’ve heard of the healing powers that come with calamine lotion but want to learn more about how to use it on the skin, you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll cover what calamine lotion is and how it works, the benefits of using it on acne-prone skin, and some tips on how to get the most out of this natural product.

What is Calamine?

Calamine is a naturally derived mineral that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It consists of zinc oxide, iron oxide, and magnesium carbonate, making it a powerhouse of dermal health benefits.

Skin Benefits of Calamine

Frequently found in lotions, masks, and moisturizers, calamine has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe redness and relieve inflammation on the skin while also reducing the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.

Historically, calamine has been used to keep the skin clear and free of pathogens, as well as soothe bug bites, rashes, and inflammation caused by contact with plants that contain components with irritating or allergenic substances, such as stinging nettles, poison ivy, and thistles.

Furthermore, besides calming inflammation, calamine can also stop the oozing and weeping caused by blisters and sores while keeping the skin dry and preventing further irritation.

Additionally, calamine’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help reduce redness, swelling, and irritation surrounding a pimple, making this centuries-old remedy an effective acne treatment.

Finally, calamine can also help relieve sunburns due to its high zinc content. Many studies have reported that zinc plasma levels significantly decrease after a burn, leading to zinc deficiency, and that increased free radical generation and decreased natural antioxidants may negatively affect wound healing and burn outcomes in general.

Therefore, applying zinc-rich calamine lotion can help replenish lost zinc levels and strengthen the skin to be able to fight against free radicals more efficiently while speeding up the recovery process from sunburns.

How to Use Calamine Lotion for Acne?

Calamine lotion can be an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne. Here’s how to use it in different ways for the best results:

Over Larger Areas

If you have acne in larger areas of the face and body, calamine lotion can help soothe the inflammation and reduce the redness surrounding the pimples.

Therefore, before using calamine lotion on your face, cleanse your skin thoroughly with a gentle cleanser and allow it to try for a few minutes.

After that, while the skin is still damp but not wet, apply calamine lotion over the affected areas and wait until it dries.

The treatment usually takes 5-10 minutes or until the calamine lotion dries out; however, if your skin feels comfortable, you can leave the calamine lotion on the skin for up to 30 minutes.

On a Single Pimple

Calamine lotion is an excellent spot treatment; therefore, when using it on a single pimple, you should apply it on clean skin and over that specific spot and leave it on for 5-10 minutes or until it fully dries.

On a Ruptured Pimple

So, you popped a pimple, and now you’re dealing with a red, inflamed, and oozing bump?

Worry not, as calamine lotion can be an excellent option for instantly soothing inflammation and drying out the weeping area.

All you have to do is drop a few drops of hydrogen peroxide on a cotton swab and gently clean the area. Once the pimple is dry and sanitized, you want to use the clean side of the cotton swab to apply a few drops of calamine lotion over the oozing spot.

Avoid using your fingers when applying calamine lotion over a ruptured pimple, as this will transfer bacteria onto the broken skin that can make their way deeper into the body and cause inflammation.

Finally, allow it to dry for a few minutes or overnight, and follow up with your regular skincare routine in the morning.

Side Effects of Using Calamine Lotion for Acne

Although gentle, anti-inflammatory, and soothing for the skin, calamine, like every other ingredient in skincare products, should be used with caution due to its ability to cause skin irritations or allergic reactions in some cases.

To prevent any unwanted side effects, you should always patch-test the product before applying it to larger areas of the skin and potentially experiencing uncomfortable adverse effects.

Additionally, avoid mixing calamine with other active ingredients, such as exfoliating acids or retinoids. Calamine won’t interfere with their function; however, its ability to leave the skin dry can cause potent actives to become more irritating on the skin and lead to discomfort in some instances.

Can Calamine Lotion Fade Acne Scars?

Calamine can help soothe active acne; however, it won’t do much to fade the scars left behind by old breakouts.

Calamine doesn’t have melanin-inhibiting properties that would stop certain enzymes from overproducing the brown pigment responsible for dark spots; therefore, it’s unlikely it will help even out the skin tone and fade post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Additionally, calamine doesn’t have collagen-stimulating properties that would help speed up the healing process and replace scar tissue with healthy skin, which is what’s needed to improve atrophic or hypertrophic acne scarring.

Finally, due to high levels of zinc, calamine could potentially have an effect on slightly improving post-inflammatory erythema, which are red spots left from acne that are more common in those with fair skin. However, the results are usually very subtle and too negligent to consider calamine a competent scar-fading treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Calamine Daily?

Using calamine too often or leaving it on the skin for too long can cause dryness, compromising the skin’s moisture barrier and leading to irritations over time.
This is why using calamine daily isn’t recommended; therefore, make sure to apply it as instructed and no more than 2-3 times a week as a short contact therapy option for instantly soothing redness and inflammation.

Can You Use Calamine Lotion on Fungal Acne?

Yes, calamine lotion can help soothe inflammation and itching caused by the overgrowth of yeast on the skin, which is the main cause of fungal acne.
However, while calamine might be an excellent temporary solution for minimizing symptoms of fungal acne, getting rid of this condition usually requires diet and lifestyle changes, as well as the complete elimination of potential triggers, including certain ingredients found in cosmetic products.

Can You Use Calamine Lotion on Baby Acne?

Yes, calamine lotion can be safely used on baby acne; however, short contact therapy is usually the recommended option rather than leaving it on the skin for longer periods due to the risk of causing dryness in delicate baby skin.
In addition to soothing baby acne, calamine can also help improve symptoms of baby eczema, diaper rash, and cradle cap, a condition caused by excess oil production on the scalp.

Originally Published: January 30, 2023

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sam wood is GoodGlow's Chief Editor
Analyzed by Sam Wood
Hi I’m Sam Wood. I’m the chief editor, lead acne expert, and health coach behind GoodGlow. I’m also an author of one of the top selling acne books on Amazon, a husband, father of two, and a pretty good cook!

I’m so glad you found GoodGlow and hope the information I have spent the last 10 years cultivating will help you clear your skin and improve your overall health.

I began experiencing acne breakotus as a sophomore in high school, but unlike most of my friends, my acne actually got worse as I got into my 20s. I exercised regularly, ate healthy (or so I thought) and spent hundreds of dollars a month on high end skincare products and supplements to help clear my skin. Despite these measures my acne breakouts and scarring only got worse as the years wore on.

This greatly wore on my self confidence and mental health. Simple things like taking pictures or going out with a large group made me feel self conscious. So I avoided these situations whenever I could help it.

As a last ditch effort I decided to try an extremely restrictive diet recommended by a close friend with an autoimmune disease. After following this diet for about two months my skin started to clear for the first time in over 8 years. The good news is that this restrictive diet is not actually necessary for 99% of people to permanently clear their skin, and over the course of a few months I was able to add back about 90% of my “normal diet”.

After clearing my skin I spent the next 4 years self experimenting on myself with different diets, supplements, skincare products to try and find a pattern for what was triggering my acne breakouts. I even tried different meditation, ice baths, and accupuncture to try and isolate the root cause of the breakouts.

In the end I realized that an extremely restrictive diet was not necessary for clear skin. The most important thing to do is to avoid inflammatory foods in your diet. Some common examples of this are fried foods, alcohol, sugar, and dairy.

Most impoirtantly I stopped reading trendy websites for skincare advice and began reading medical journals authored by dermatologists and nutritionists. Although the information in the articles was great the information was not easily understandable to most readers (including me). I spent hours dissecting individual posts and looking up terms I did not understand. Over the next 6 months I gradually began to understand these journals and started self experiemting some of the research on myself.

After experiencing quite a bit of success personally, I started sharing my research on forums and with close friends struggling with acne. When I shared the research it was in easy to understand, plain English. Everyone I talked to loved what I had to say and kept asking more and more questions. So I decided to start a blog so I could just send someone a link when they asked a question instead of rewriting something I had sent 100 times before 😅

While the same directional principles apply to everyone, acne is very personal and should be treated on an individual basis. That’s ultimately why I created GoodGlow. To help everyone reverse engineer the root cause of their acne and clear their skin permanently.

To date I’ve helped over 2,500 people clear their skin using a natural, holistic approach. If you are unable to find an answer to your question in any of the articles my team has written please reach out and I will do my best to guide you to the proper information and resources so you can make a thoughtful, informed decision. Read more of Sam's articles.

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