Unless you are a chemist, you’ve probably only heard about zinc oxide as a physical sunscreen. But there are actually many more benefits of zinc and zinc oxide than simply protecting against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. We review the surprising benefits of zinc oxide and zinc oxide medical tape.
Clearing up the confusion about chemical versus physical sunscreens
Zinc oxide has earned a bit of fame recently as one of the two main types of physical sunscreens (the other is titanium oxide). Physical sunscreens like zinc oxide block UV rays by reflecting them. Instead of the UV rays hitting your skin and causing burns and increasing the risk of cancer, zinc oxide reflects the radiation back into the world. Chemical screens like oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene, on the other hand, absorb UV radiation.
The key difference between physical and chemical sunscreens that has garnered the attention of the popular press is that chemical sunscreens absorb into skin1, while physical sunscreens do not.2 The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consequently deemed mineral sunscreens like zinc oxide safe, while chemical sunscreens require more research. There is also some evidence to suggest that chemical sunscreens may be harmful to the environment, particularly coral reefs. Because of these issues, there has been a recent push to move toward zinc oxide and other physical sunscreens.
Zinc oxide is antibacterial
Some preparations of zinc oxide are anti-bacterial.3 Zinc oxide nanoparticles can poke holes in bacterial cell membranes, change the properties of bacterial cell surfaces, and increase oxidative stress for the bacteria. Zinc oxide in this form can even accumulate within bacterial cells and cause them to commit cell-mediated suicide (i.e. apoptosis). Some bacteria are particularly sensitive to the antibacterial effects of zinc oxide. For example, zinc oxide prevents Staphylococcus species—the bacteria that live on skin and cause staph infections—from growing.4
Given the antibacterial properties of zinc oxide, it is easy to imagine the benefits of zinc oxide medical tape. Hy-Tape—the Original Pink Tape™—incorporates a unique zinc oxide-based adhesive into every strip and every roll.
Zinc aids in wound healing
Physicians have known for decades the benefits of using zinc to aid in wound healing. Impressively, zinc oxide has been used for over 3,000 years to treat skin wounds.5 Zinc applied to wounds helps skin regrow by attracting new skin cells and helping to establish blood flow to the wound (neoangiogenesis).6 While it can be used on almost any external wound, zinc oxide medical tape is particularly useful for skin and soft tissue injuries.7 When zinc oxide is included in wound dressings, it speeds up wound healing and reduces complications compared to standard post-operative wound dressing.8
When choosing between medical tapes, it is reasonable to select zinc oxide medical tape (e.g., Hy-Tape) for its potential benefit in wound healing.
Zinc oxide is a mild astringent
Zinc oxide has antiseptic properties and is a mild astringent. As a mild astringent, zinc oxide shrinks skin pores and absorbs excess oils. When zinc oxide is incorporated into medical tape, these antiseptic and astringent properties help the tape adhere to skin and resist slipping caused by natural oils and soiling. This is one of the reasons Hy-Tape, a zinc oxide medical tape, adheres tightly and resists rolling and loosening.
Zinc oxide is soothing to skin
Hy-Tape is the leading zinc oxide medical tape for a variety of reasons. It’s waterproof, washable, and stands up to oils and moisture. Hy-Tape adheres better when it warms up to body temperature. But one of the main reasons that patients, caregivers, nurses, and physicians use Hy-Tape is because the zinc oxide-based adhesive is soothing to skin. When it is time to change dressings or remove bandages, the zinc oxide medical tape does not tug and tear at skin like other medical tapes often do. Indeed, Hy-Tape zinc oxide medical tape is soothing when it is applied, and gentle to skin when it is rzincemoved.
When it comes to medical tape, choosing one that contains zinc oxide can potentially confer several advantages discussed here. When it comes to zinc oxide medical tape, Hy-Tape is the industry leader.
Hy-Tape is offered in many different widths, in pre-cut strips, and in 2 different sized adhesive patches. Click here to view all of our different options.
1. Matta MK, Zusterzeel R, Pilli NR, et al. Effect of Sunscreen Application under Maximal Use Conditions on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2019;321(21):2082-2091. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.5586
2. Gamer AO, Leibold E, van Ravenzwaay B. The in Vitro Absorption of Microfine Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide through Porcine Skin. Toxicol In Vitro. 2006;20(3):301-307. doi:10.1016/j.tiv.2005.08.008
3. Siddiqi KS, Ur Rahman A, Tajuddin, Husen A. Properties of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles and Their Activity against Microbes. Nanoscale research letters. 2018;13(1):141-141. doi:10.1186/s11671-018-2532-3
4. Soderberg TA, Sunzel B, Holm S, Elmros T, Hallmans G, Sjoberg S. Antibacterial Effect of Zinc Oxide in Vitro. Scand J Plast Reconstr Surg Hand Surg. 1990;24(3):193-197.
5. Lansdown AB. Zinc in the Healing Wound. Lancet. 1996;347(9003):706-707. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(96)90072-0
6. Lin P-H, Sermersheim M, Li H, Lee PHU, Steinberg SM, Ma J. Zinc in Wound Healing Modulation. Nutrients. 2017;10(1):16. doi:10.3390/nu10010016
7. Hughes G, McLean NR. Zinc Oxide Tape: A Useful Dressing for the Recalcitrant Finger-Tip and Soft-Tissue Injury. Archives of emergency medicine. 1988;5(4):223-227. doi:10.1136/emj.5.4.223
8. Thompson CB, Wiemken TL, Brown TS. Effect of Postoperative Dressing on Excisions Performed on the Leg: A Comparison between Zinc Oxide Compression Dressings Versus Standard Wound Care. Dermatol Surg. 2017;43(11):1379-1384. doi:10.1097/dss.0000000000001209