Zinc Sulfate Doesn’t Work for Rosacea

Written by on March 26, 2012 in Acne Treatments, Rosacea Supplements with 8 Comments


Despite a 2006 study in a prestigious journal that showed some modest benefit from taking 100mg a day of Zinc Sufate, a more recent study with a dose of 220mg a day wasn’t able to replicate any benefits.

Worse still, this just-published study wasn’t able to prove that Zinc Sulfate helped at all.

In order to prove that a treatment works, researchers need to show that it works better than the placebo, when the trialists are blinded – that is have no idea if they are taking the active or an inactive tablet.

The abstract ends with a hopeful comment that further research might determine what role oral zinc plays in rosacea, but it seems clear that any role will be minimal at best.

Nothing to See Here, Move On

This is exactly the sort of research we need, a good study that shows Zinc Sulfate does not work for Rosacea.

Nothing to see here, move on.

Int J Dermatol. 2012 Apr;51(4):459-62.

Randomized, double-blind trial of 220 mg zinc sulfate twice daily in the treatment of rosacea

Bamford JT, Gessert CE, Haller IV, Kruger K, Johnson BP.

Essentia Health Duluth Clinic Essentia Institute of Rural Health Duluth Family Medicine Residency Program, Duluth, MN, USA.

A 2006 article published in the International Journal of Dermatology reported that oral zinc sulfate 100 mg three times daily was associated with improvement in the severity of facial rosacea (Sharquie et al. 2006; 45: 857-861). The current study was undertaken to further assess the role of zinc in the management of rosacea. This was a randomized, double-blind trial of 220 mg of zinc sulfate twice daily for 90 days in patients with moderately severe facial rosacea at baseline. Subjects were recruited in the Upper Midwest USA between August 2006 and April 2008, and followed until July 2008.

Forty-four subjects completed the trial (22 in each arm). Rosacea improved in both groups.

There were no differences in magnitude of improvement based on rosacea severity scores between subjects receiving zinc sulfate and subjects receiving placebo (P = 0.284).  Serum zinc levels were higher in subjects receiving zinc (P<0.001).

Oral zinc sulfate was not associated with greater improvement in rosacea severity compared with placebo in this study.

Additional studies are needed to determine what role oral zinc may have in the management of rosacea.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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8 Reader Comments

  1. Dukecity says:

    Good to know, THX

  2. cara brown says:

    i am really surprised at this particular assessment. is there anyone else who can imagine the body/ and rosacea as a complex thing that cannot be fixed with just one miracle thing?
    as rosacea took a long time to build up in the body, i believe it may take a while to combat. zinc deficiency is linked to candida. rosacea is linked to candida. does anyone really think that a trial of zinc is going to cure rosacea? but perhaps a strict anti candida diet, which may include addressing a zinc deficiency (zinc sulfate for one) as well as a protocal that helps heal (glutamine or aloe for instance) along with a good cleanse, enemas, and or colonics…now we are talking. but when a study is done, and then quoted, I would prefer for the whole story to be told. were these people put on a trial and then told to go at it; eat ice cream, cheddar cheese, and pancakes, and half and half in your coffee, whatever and let’s see how this zinc works. you cannot do what you have always done and expect different results. hope this link works; it sites many instances of how zinc helps in the fight against candida. while not all rosacea may be complicated by a poor diet and candida, it is certainly a culprit in many cases.


  3. Janet says:

    I totally agree with Cara. I have a strict, very strict diet, and will get bad rosacea if I stray. I still have it on the strict diet (mildly) but it goes away when I start my zinc supplements. My zinc deficiency is directly related to my skin condition(s).

  4. Sean says:

    I use a 10% w/w Zinc Sulphate monohydrate cream (in aqueous cream base) with 100mg Minocycline capsule daily. It is very effective at controlling the symptoms of my Rosacea. Topical Zinc inhibits the enzyme (Kallikrein 5) found in the upper layers of the skin which is necessary to produce the rogue Cathelicidins that are responsible for the symptomology of Rosacea. Topical use of labile Zinc ions (Zn2+) to treat Rosacea has a very real pharmaceutical rationale in the way it inhibits the specific enzyme which I mention. See BRENDA (British Enzyme Database) and the work of Dr Richard Gallo in California who has started to work out the biochemical pathology of Rosacea.

    • Devon says:

      I wonder does this have something dots do with why Zinc Oxide Sunscreen always seems to help my rosacea?

      • Sean says:

        In Zinc Oxide, the Zinc is closely bound up with the Oxygen and is not as labile and free as it is in Zinc Sulphate. So it would not have the same inhibitory effect on Kallikrein 5. In sunscreen, it probably acts simply to reflect the UV light although perhaps we cannot discount a therapeutic effect on Rosacea itself.

        • Sean says:

          The problem with using oral Zinc supplements may be due to the fact that too much Zinc systemically in the tissues is toxic. And it does not actually reach the peripheral target sites in the skin. The body may have mechanisms for detoxifying before it exerts any therapeutic effects.

  5. Darryl says:

    So, it’s clear to me that indeed, Zinc DOES in fact have an impact on Rosacea in some people, especially combined certain dietary behaviors. And with unremarkable side-effects, I’d say go right ahead and give Zinc a try! But do your do-diligence first. Check with your Doctor to see if it could negatively impact any other medicinal regimen you are already taking..

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