No known benefits

Calamine at a glance

  • Solution that includes zinc oxide and iron oxide
  • Used as an absorbent and skin soothing treatment
  • Can have short-term benefits for skin conditions
  • Long-term use can result in dryness, irritation, and barrier damage

Calamine description

Calamine, more commonly known as calamine lotion, is an over-the-counter product intended to help alleviate itching and oozing from several skin conditions, including poison ivy and chickenpox. Calamine lotion is not composed of a single ingredient, rather it is a zinc oxide-based solution that includes iron (III) oxide, also known as ferric oxide (which give it its signature muted pink color), and additional ingredients such as phenol, glycerin, or even menthol, depending on the preparation. Its primary benefit is its ability as an absorbent for weeping skin, and as a soothing agent. Calamine lotion has a wealth of research demonstrating its short-term benefits when applied topically. The issue is overuse, when its absorbency can lead to skin drying out too much, leading to irritation, scaling and barrier damage. It’s also important to double check the adjunct ingredients in the calamine lotion you’re using to make sure they don’t include additional irritating components such as the previously mentioned menthol or drying forms of alcohol.

Calamine references

  • Cleveland Clinic, Website, Accessed April 2024
  • Journal of Skin and Sexually Transmitted Diseases, April 2022, pages 83-86
  • Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, June 2007, pages 147-150

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.