Calamine has been used to fight rashes, bug bites and skin irritation for many generations. Your grandparents used it, your parents always reached for it and you likely have a bottle tucked away somewhere.
Xoli Ntombela, from Johannesburg, says she uses it to treat her baby’s eczema and on herself to avoid skin irritation after removing her makeup.
Calamine lotion is typically used as a topical ointment to relieve itchiness.
“I use calamine on my baby because she’s had eczema since birth, but now it’s not as serious as it was when she was younger,” she says.
What is calamine lotion?
According to the Medical Dictionary, calamine lotion is defined as a liquid suspension, solution, or emulsion for external application to the body.
It is a mixture of calamine, zinc oxide, glycerine, *bentonite magma (a suspending agent), and calcium hydroxide solution used as a skin protectant.
Sthandwa Shabalala, a skin therapist and mother from KwaZulu-Natal, says they were taught that calamine soothes inflamed skin and reduces vascularity.
“I use it a lot on my kids for chickenpox which quickly dries it up. After that, I use a different ointment that will help with removing dark marks.”
What are the benefits of using calamine?
Dr Mthobisi Mazibuko, a dermatologist based in Richards Bay, says calamine lotion is mainly used to dry up wet skin conditions.
“I do not prescribe calamine to any of my clients, and that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It is mainly used to dry up wet skin conditions and there is no harm in using it as a skin protectant.”
Ntombela also says that calamine is affordable, and one can get it over the counter without any prescriptions.
Professional nurse, Ntombiyethu Mtambo, says calamine lotion is only for topical use and one should not ingest it. “Calamine lotion is a medicine prescribed for heat rash and skin irritation. It helps reduce itchiness and acne. However, I should warn that this is not for drinking and not to be used on any sores internally.”
From being affordable, easy to access, and able to work wonders, here are some added benefits of using calamine:
- Helps manage acne;
- Helps relieve itchiness;
- Heals chickenpox bumps, blisters and scars;
- Treats heat rash in babies;
- Dries up oozing skin irritations;
- Improves skin tone.
How to use calamine lotion?
According to Mayo Clinic, doses of calamine varies from patient to patient as prescribed by a medical doctor. It’s also very important to always follow a doctor’s orders or the directions on the label. Follow the following steps when using calamine:
- Always shake before using.
- Moisten a piece of cotton wool with lotion.
- Use moistened cotton to apply to affected are of the skin.
- Allow to dry on the skin.
- Repeat as often as you need to.
Health For Mzansi’s word of the day:
*Bentonite magma: According to Our Everyday Life, bentonite magma is used to influence the stability of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products. It is a volcanic ash and stabilises oil in water.