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Zinc Oxide Ointment
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Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Zinc Oxide Ointment on 03/03/2011 19:41:00 MST Print View

This may have come up multiple times, but I'll post again for those that don't know.
Generic Zinc Oxide Ointment without fragrance has many uses:

1) Good unscented sunscreen - very good at blocking sun and doesn't attract bugs like most sunscreens. It does create a white tint, but we aren't worried so much about that in the back-country.

2) Poison ivy, oak, ... - one of the best remedies out there.

3) Reduces chaffing - Apply a little on the upper thighs or other body parts depending on your need.

4) Deodorant - zinc oxide helps reduce BO.

5) Lip (or other) balm - helps heal dry chapped lips or any body parts that are inflamed by sun, allergies or abrasions.

6) Emergency fire starter - like petroleum jelly, combined with toilet paper, dried leaves, twigs, makes starting fires in damp conditions easy.

7) To protect from water - Can be used the same way petroleum jelly would be used to protect against water. Shoe and clothing come to mind.

8) Hemorrhoid ointment - Very effective. Some may find this very helpful.

It is cheap and can be had at most drug stores. Many brands have added fragrance, so read the label.

I use it mostly as a sunscreen, but the other uses make it multi-use.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Zinc Oxide Ointment on 03/03/2011 19:45:23 MST Print View

I always carry it. Discovered it through distance running as a means to stop the dreaded monkey-butt. Way cheaper than all the name-brand anti-chaff stuff, too.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Zinc Oxide Ointment on 03/03/2011 22:20:40 MST Print View

+1 Zinc Oxide Ointment. Very effective.

it's in my kit, though there are two downsides for me. my finger stays white cause it's really hard to get off (which is a good thing for the treated location), and smell brings back memory of sleep deprivation from when my daughter was a baby.


Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Re: Re: Zinc Oxide Ointment on 03/04/2011 20:46:47 MST Print View

+2 What a life saver. It is what an engine must feel like when you pour in fresh oil. But when I see that tube I smell the diaper pail.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
smell on 03/05/2011 04:38:46 MST Print View

I only use the plain uncsented type. Desetin and other baby specific ointments have smell that attracts bugs.

James McDaniel
Zinc Oxide Ointment on 03/05/2011 08:08:23 MST Print View

I absolutely swear by this stuff. I love it.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Butt Paste on 07/20/2012 21:58:11 MDT Print View

Was at the store looking for Zinc Oxide as a sunscreen for a hike above treeline and found 40% Butt Paste Max:


The other brands had 13-16%. The more the better? The more the harder to apply? Bad for you? Do tell...

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Butt Paste on 07/21/2012 02:29:13 MDT Print View

I carry a very small amount of ordinary sunscreen for my nose, and I've found that one drop of it can be applied with one square of toilet paper to places where the sun doesn't shine. Then (multipurpose) you can use that paper scrap to light your next fire.


Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Percentage on 07/21/2012 04:05:58 MDT Print View

The standard old school Zinc Oxide ointment has 20%. I found it works well as a sunscreen and since it doesn't have the smelly ingredients that you find in most Zinc Oxide baby ointments or sunscreens, it doesn't attract bugs.

Some my find it feels greasy, but I don't mind it at all and in fact in many situations where you are exposed, the greasiness helps protect from dryness.

A link to one brand

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Also on 07/21/2012 04:32:33 MDT Print View

There are few other uses for zinc oxide. I find it works better than almost anything for lots of injuries.

Case in point, I had an open wound at the beginning of a 10 day hike. I had to keep it treated with Neosporin and covered in gauze. It never seemed to heal.

I eventually ran out of Neosporin and so used my zinc oxide instead. I found the wound started healing almost immediately and within a few days had fully closed.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Percentage on 07/21/2012 04:44:52 MDT Print View

Canus Li'l Goats 40% zinc oxide at CVS. I think it has fragrance though.

Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide (40%) (Skin Protectant)

Inactive Ingredients: Petrolatum, Goats Milk (Fresh), Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Emulsifying Wax, Fragrance (Parfum), Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben

Edited by jshann on 07/21/2012 04:58:00 MDT.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
What does it look like? on 07/21/2012 05:49:46 MDT Print View

When u apply the zinc oxide, do you look like a ghost? Can't seem to find a picture of video of someone applying.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
Other Qs on 07/21/2012 05:58:31 MDT Print View

Does it sweat off? What does it feel like when applied? Is it greasy like a BenGay (minus the menthol)?

What about when you go to bed and snug up your mummy sleeping bag.... does it get all over the place? Do you remove it before bed? (If you do, I hear it is not water soluble, so you need some sort of cleaner)

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
What it looks like on 07/23/2012 08:47:59 MDT Print View


You've seen me wear it when we went paddling and I sometimes wear it hiking if I'm not in the green tunnel.

It goes on white like a clown until you rub it in. If you put in on heavy, you will have white blotches. Your skin will also feel greasy.

I find that if I put on just enough to barely feel greasy, I won't have the blotchy white look and I will not sunburn, even on the water all day.

I have yet to get sunburned this year and I burn easily. I have only used 20% zinc oxide and I often spend 4 or more hours at a time in bright sunlight on reflective water.

I found I would often burn in the past when I used those expensive sunscreens.

The greasiness goes away soon after application, especially if rubbed in well.

I will sometime put it only on my nose and lips when hiking in my neck of the woods, to keep my nose from turning red and to keep my lips from cracking and bleeding.

I apply to all exposed skin while hiking in the Southwest or any place without tree cover.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Grease on 07/23/2012 08:50:30 MDT Print View

A side note, I usually only apply zinc oxide as a sunscreen early in the day, maybe twice, so by evening all greasiness is gone and my skin feels normal.

Bryce F.
(bster13) - MLife

Locale: Norwalk, CT
What does it take... on 07/23/2012 08:50:42 MDT Print View wash off? Water? Soap? Wipe it on your buddies towel?

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Easy to wash off on 07/23/2012 10:08:12 MDT Print View


Old school zinc oxide has a petroleum jelly(Vaseline) base. Any greasiness can be washed or wiped off, but I usually just rub it in.
Also, since it seems the greasiness disappears after a short while, it's always gone before I need to wash it off.

The petroleum jelly base helps to fight windburn, which often accompanies multiple days in the outdoors. So having a slight greasiness is often a plus.

Dan Yeruski
(zelph) - MLife

Treatment for Jungle Rot/Athletes Foot on 07/23/2012 19:18:23 MDT Print View

Military issue of zinc oxide was part of your medical kit when departing for Vietnam. Helps prevent/cure "Jungle Rot" aka athletes foot of the worse kind. Don't leave home without it when doing your next hike.

Tony Fischer
(adfischer) - F
Odorless on 07/23/2012 20:08:30 MDT Print View

Has anyone found any without a scent at Walgreens, CVS, etc? Can seem to find any that doesn't smell like baby.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Odorless on 07/24/2012 03:55:37 MDT Print View

The odorless version is often not in stock. I realized that I was running low so headed to CVS to find the shelf empty.
I went on to Duane Read and also found the shelf empty.

I did eventually find a new stock of them in Right Aid. They were out of stoke last time I checked.

Note, sometimes you have to look hard. I've found it in the strangest sections.
The ones I found last week were on a back wall far away from the other ointments.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Lighten up, TITANIUM dioxide on 07/24/2012 10:38:53 MDT Print View

I am surprised folks on backpackinglight are still using that heavy zink when they
could switch to Ti oxide.

If you spend a lot of time on Glaciers in the middle of the day, Clown White is even
thicker, a total block. Get it at Clown supply stores. It has titanium. It will lighten your heart.

Edited by oware on 07/24/2012 10:41:11 MDT.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Zinc Oxide Ointment on 08/06/2012 09:10:10 MDT Print View

WalMart sells the clear zinc oxide that is also odorless. It's great stuff.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Zinc Oxide Ointment on 08/06/2012 17:24:31 MDT Print View

Donna what brand is the Walmart clear zinc oxide?

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Re: Re: Zinc Oxide Ointment on 08/07/2012 03:26:19 MDT Print View

They sell both Equate and Ocean Potion. I have used the Ocean Potion as a sunscreen for my face.

Thayne N
(teethless) - MLife

Locale: Boston
zinc oxide on 08/09/2012 23:58:19 MDT Print View

I too have become a convert after reading many a bpl thread that mentions the benefits. I ended up finding scentless 20% in the pharmacy of my local walgreens. I'm curious about the ti oxide!

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
Target pharmacy on 10/31/2012 22:39:42 MDT Print View

I'm considering adding this stuff to my kit. I picked up the Fougera brand from the pharmacist at Target. They store it behind the counter for some reason.

I happen to trust the Fougera brand because there is another cream of theirs I have been using for years.


There is no added fragrance to this brand.

Do you think it could be used on our feet to prevent maceration? If so, do you think it would be best to apply it in the morning or at night?

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
clown white on 11/01/2012 10:50:14 MDT Print View

REI carried it at one time in quarter size tins. Comes scented or not.

The best thing for your nose and lower lip when traveling on a glacier in July.

Here is a maker.

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Zinc oxide ointments - some better than others on 11/02/2012 00:24:22 MDT Print View

Different zinc oxide ointment formulas have different ingredients and properties. Read the labels.

Zinc oxide sunscreens are usually 20% zinc oxide or more. Anything substantially less might require lots more for the same protection.

Read all the other ingredients, and make sure you like what you see. The simplest ointments have just zinc oxide and a base like petroleum jelly, mineral oil, vegetable oil, beeswax, or mixtures of those.

Some people are concerned about zinc oxide nanoparticles used in the "clear" formulas. You can get zinc oxide ointments and sunscreens without nanoparticles, that goes on white and clears up with some rubbing.

For a very thorough review of nanoparticle zinc oxide health and environmental effects:

I use Badger SPF 35 Sport Sunscreen, which is zinc oxide (without nanoparticles) in vegetable oils and beeswax. My wife won't touch it, because it clogs her pores.

I've learned a lot of other uses for my sunscreen from this thread!

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
I use a lot of this stuff on 11/02/2012 07:12:58 MDT Print View

Re: Plain Zinc Oxide Ointment,

I tend to use a lot of this when I'm kayaking. Sun reflecting on open water can really cause a sunburn in no time, even in overcast winter weather.
It does give you that blotchy white look when applied heavily and not thoroughly rubbed in, but I don't care.

I don't use it much for sun protection where I hike, the North East US is mostly a green tunnel. Maybe a little on the nose.
I did use it a lot hiking in UT, AZ, NM last spring. No shade on those hikes.

I also find I use it a lot in windy weather for wind burn, especially on the lips and hands.

I've used it a few times for hiker rash.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
curious on 11/02/2012 12:57:02 MDT Print View

What I'm really curious about if it it could be used on our feet as a moisture barrier to prevent maceration. The pharmacist I spoke to didn't seem to have the time of day for me, but she did briefly suggest that it is used to prevent diaper rashes, therefore, it could be used to prevent maceration.

Using it on our feet would make it a great multi-use tool.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Thanks on 11/04/2012 09:59:08 MST Print View


Thanks for the info. I ordered some of the Equate from Walmart.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Zinc Oxide Ointment on 02/14/2013 22:39:54 MST Print View

Hey folks,

It's pretty easy to make your own Zinc Oxide Ointments, and for a heck of a lot cheaper. I somewhat recently bought a lb of micro Zinc Oxide for about 8 dollars. Micro meaning small enough particles to rub in clear, but not technically nano and less chance of possibly getting into the blood stream. Anyways, as i look like a "stereotypical" Scot (reddish beard and all), i burn very easy. That lb of Zinc will last quite a long time and make a lot of sunscreen.

Re: the nano and possible health issues, what i rarely see mentioned is the possible importance of the carrier medium. If the Zinc gets suspended in a heavier and larger moleculed type oil or cream, it's less likely to penetrate through the deeper layers of the skin because the carrier medium itself is going to more or less sit on top of the skin or first couple of layers.

In other words, DON'T put micro or especially nano Zinc particles in carrier oils like Emu, Macadamia, or Jojoba oils because these are deeply penetrating oils that can get very deep into the skin.

Btw, for sunscreen, i mix the Zinc into Sesame and Shea Butter since these also have some minor sun protecting properties.