Let‘s talk about zinc oxide (Desitin) 👶🍑🦶💯

Tonya Olson

Tonya Olson

Dr. Tonya Olson, MSPT, DPT
Board Certified in Orthopedic Physical Therapy

Certified Manual Physical Therapist

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***More is Not Better***

***Smearing Large Amounts of it on the Foot Creates Problems***


*Zinc oxide is an amphoteric oxide.

It is (nearly) insoluble in water.

It is dense

It has antibacterial and deodorizing properties.

It has a drying effect on the skin (desiccation)

(Fun fact-over 50% of zinc oxide is used in the rubber industry)


*Its insolubility and density allow for it to be ideal for protecting against prolonged exposure to urine (diaper rash)

*Creating a physical barrier against UV rays from the sun


**In the context of footcare, it is best used Sparingly**

* Primarily by using a dab on the top of a blister that is being taped to protect the skin, dry the blister and prevent the tape adhesive from sticking to the roof of the blister and causing damage*


**Using Zinc Oxide on the Entire foot is a well-intentioned error that I see at races**

*In the case of Zinc Oxide-More is Not Better**


**Let‘s talk why**

*It is insoluble! When it is smeared Everywhere, it Gets Everywhere!

*And DOESN‘T LEAVE! (Insoluble means Does Not Wash Out)

*Zinc oxide:

*clogs the pores in socks, destroying any wicking properties

*creates a layer that feet slide on inside the sock and increases sliding of the sock on the insole

*this increases the risk of shearing forces and risk for blisters, tissue breakdown and the foot sliding in the shoe

*Once zinc oxide has coated a foot, its insolubility makes it challenging and time-consuming to remove if you ever need to apply tape (to address the blisters caused by socks not wicking and sliding feet), it will interfere with the ability of the tape to adhere to the skin


**Think about the properties of the supplies used in footcare**

*Using zinc oxide as a general lubricant or hydrophobic layer to prevent maceration can cause more problems than it helps*


** More is Not Always Better**

*Know your products*

*Because it creates a hydrophobic layer, zinc oxide does help prevent maceration, but there are better options with fewer complications*


*This is General advice intended to educate about the properties of zinc oxide and basic considerations to inform decisions as to when and how to use it*


*Save your socks! Use lubricant or powder to protect skin from friction and maceration*


🙏Thank you for appreciating my footcare nerdfest🤓🦶🦶💕🙏