Is a zinc deficiency causing your acne?

Skin health is an inside out process. Although each case is different, zinc can do wonders for improving skin health, texture and function.

Zinc is important for skin regeneration. 6% of the bodies zinc is found within the skin. It is an essential micronutrients meaning we cannot generate it ourselves - we need to consume it.

Consuming an adequate amount of zinc daily can be hard and often I see zinc deficiency in many skin conditions in my practice.

Zinc is found in its highest content in animal proteins such as oysters, meat, eggs and fish. Which makes vegetarians and vegans at a higher risk of being deficient.

Are you deficient?

The best way to tell if you're deficient is to get a blood test. Other physical symptoms include:

  • loss of appetite

  • acne

  • poor wound healing

  • hair loss

  • white spots on nails

How can you eat more?

If you are Zinc deficient you can increase your intake of zinc rich foods. Some plant based options include:

  • chickpeas

  • lentils

  • tofu

  • walnuts

  • cashew nuts

  • chia seeds

  • ground flaxseeds

  • hemp seeds

  • pumpkin seeds

  • wholemeal bread

  • quinoa

What if you need more?

If you need to supplement look for a Zinc with cofactors like magnesium and B6 (or Pyridoxal phosphate). This will make for better metabolism.

Ideally you want at least 30mg of Zinc per day and no more than 50mg per day.

Long term supplementation is not recommended. Ideally you want to be making the getting the most from your diet.

Be sure to take your supplement with food as Zinc on an empty stomach will make you nauseous.

You can use it topically as well

Zinc is also very effective topically and is found in many skincare products. This can be used to help clear congested skin topically whilst you work internally as well. If you have acne prone and congested skin I would recommend THE ORDINARY Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% 30 mL

About the Author

Chloe is a female health Naturopath with a passion for cooking real food and not feeling guilty about it! She is also a self confessed skincare junkie and is always trying or researching new and emerging products to recommend to her clients during the healing process. Aside from seeing people in her clinic Chloe is also developing an online skin master class, to help guide people all over the world how to clear up there skin for good! To be the first to know when this course launches, sign up here!


Bagherani, N. and R Smoller, B. (2016). An overview of zinc and its importance in dermatology- Part I: Importance and function of zinc in human beings. Global Dermatology, 3(5), pp.330-336.

Cervantes, J., Eber, A., Perper, M., Nascimento, V., Nouri, K. and Keri, J. (2017). The role of zinc in the treatment of acne: A review of the literature. Dermatologic Therapy, 31(1), p.e12576.

Gupta, M., Mahajan, V., Mehta, K. and Chauhan, P. (2014). Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review. Dermatology Research and Practice, 2014, pp.1-11.

Pfeiffer, C. (1974). Fingernail White Spots: Possible Zinc Deficiency. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 228(2), p.157.


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