The medical term for eczema is atopic dermatitis. It is characterised by itchy red patches on the skin. You can use zinc in various forms to treat eczema without a GP's prescription. Zinc is widely available at health food and chemist shops in both topical and oral formulations. Using zinc to treat eczema can be beneficial for individuals who are reluctant to take prescription medications or who have experienced negative side-effects from conventional medical treatments.
While individuals of any age can experience eczema, this skin condition most often appears in children. It usually first makes an appearance before the age of five.
Topical zinc creams can be used in conjunction with oral prescription medications. They can provide relief by reducing redness and irritation and providing a protective barrier. Treating eczema with topical zinc applications is beneficial, particularly for children, because there is virtually no risk of side-effects. In fact, many nappy rash creams contain zinc oxide, and creams that are safe for babies are usually safe for young children as well. Use zinc creams at night because they can get messy -- they can be sticky and may cause your clothing to stick to your skin.
Zinc in your diet
Adding zinc-rich foods to the diet, including beef, turkey, salmon and spinach, can ensure that you're getting sufficient levels of this mineral. Consider zinc supplements if it's difficult for you to consume enough zinc-rich foods. However, focus on dietary sources of zinc first. With a little planning, it's easy to add zinc-containing foods to the diet, especially since many breads and cereals are fortified with zinc. The recommended daily allowance of zinc is 11 mg (0.0004 oz) for men and 8 mg (0.0003 oz) for women. The recommended amount of zinc for children varies by age, with pre-teens needing (0.0003 oz) and younger children requiring less.
Zinc and hair care
Shampoos that treat dandruff often contain zinc. They can be used to treat eczema on the scalp as well as eczema on bodily extremities. However, avoid using these shampoos on the face. Use products specifically formulated for babies on children under two years of age. Follow the instructions on the product label to determine how frequently you should use the shampoo, but you can use special shampoos daily until your condition improves.
Using zinc as an eczema treatment might be less effective in cases where a large area of the skin is affected. Less severe cases of eczema sometimes can be treated solely with topical zinc. Give sufficient time before determining whether or not zinc creams are helping to alleviate your eczema. Natural treatments, including zinc cream, can sometimes take a month or more before you see results. Natural treatments aren't as potent as prescription steroid medications.
Oral zinc supplements
Adults can take zinc supplements orally. Follow package recommendations to determine the proper dose. Children should avoid taking lone zinc supplements, but can safely take a zinc-containing multi-vitamin that is specifically formulated for children.
Confirm an eczema diagnosis before self-treating with zinc. Eczema and psoriasis can look very similar and can be difficult to differentiate. See your GP and only attempt over-the-counter treatments if you've been given a diagnosis of eczema.