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This article is about the chemical mixture. For other uses, see Calamine (disambiguation).

Calamine is either a mixture of zinc oxide (ZnO) with about 0.5% ferric oxide (Fe2O3)[1][2] or a zinc carbonate compound.[3][4] It is the main ingredient in calamine lotion and is used as an anti-pruritic (anti-itching agent) to treat conditions such as sunburn, rashes, poison ivy, poison oak, chickenpox, and insect bites and stings.[5][6][7][8][9][10] It is also used as a mild antiseptic to prevent infections that can be caused by scratching the affected area, and an astringent to dry weeping or oozing blisters and acne abscesses.[11]

It is on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system.[12]

Medical uses[edit]

In a 1992 press release, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that no proof had been submitted showing calamine to be safe for use or effective in treating bug bites, stings, and rashes from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.[13] The press release listed a total of 415 over-the-counter (OTC) drug ingredients which the FDA proposed banning for specific uses which were, as of yet, unproven.

In a September 2, 2008 document, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended applying topical OTC skin protectants, such as calamine, to relieve the itch caused by poisonous plants such as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.[14]

Calamine lotion is a component of the zinc-impregnated gauze wrap used to treat ulcers of the leg in Unna boots.


  1. ^ Calvert, James. "Zinc and Cadmium". Physics. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  2. ^, Inc. "Calamine, Powder, USP". Alphabetical Listing of Chemicals., Inc. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Martin (ed), Elizabeth A. (2012). Concise Medical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. "calamine". ISBN 9780191727016. 
  4. ^ Richards, Alan W. "Zinc processing". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Calamine cream and lotion". netdoctor. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Calamine
  7. ^ The South African Medicines Formulary: ANTIPRURITICS AND TOPICAL ANAESTHETICS
  8. ^ The Good Housekeeping Book of Child Care
  9. ^ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Poison ivy - oak - sumac rash
  10. ^ Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia: Hives
  11. ^ Soothing Remedies for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak
  12. ^ "19th WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (April 2015)" (PDF). WHO. April 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Banning 415 Ingredients from Seven Categories of NonPrescription Drugs". Press Release. FDA. P92-27. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009. 
  14. ^ September 2, 2008 FDA Document

External links[edit]