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Calamine, also known as calamine lotion, is a medication used to treat mild itchiness.[2][3] This includes from sunburn, insect bite, or other mild skin conditions.[4][5] It may also help dry out skin irritation.[1] It is applied as a cream or lotion to the skin.[2]

A puddle of a thin pink lotion, next to a pink plastic bottle
Calamine lotion
Combination of
zinc oxide astringent
ferric oxide antipruritic
Clinical data
Pronunciation KAL a mine[1]
ATC code

Side effects may include skin irritation.[4] It is considered to be safe in pregnancy.[4] Calamine is a combination of zinc oxide and 0.5% ferric oxide (Fe2O3).[6] The lotion is produced following the addition of other ingredients such as phenol and calcium hydroxide.[6][7]

Calamine lotion has been used as far back as 1500 BC.[8] It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system.[9] Calamine is available as a generic medication and over the counter.[5] The wholesale cost in the developing world is about 0.25 to 3.85 USD per 100 ml bottle.[10] In the United Kingdom, this amount costs the NHS about £0.44.[2]


Medical usesEdit

Calamine is used to treat itchiness.[2] This includes from sunburn, insect bite, or other mild skin conditions.[4][5]


Calamine is mixed with either zinc oxide (ZnO) with about 0.5% ferric oxide (Fe2O3)[11][12] or a zinc carbonate compound.[13][14]

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


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.[15]

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.[16]


  1. ^ a b "Calamine (topical) medical facts from". 
  2. ^ a b c d British national formulary : BNF 69 (69 ed.). British Medical Association. 2015. p. 801. ISBN 9780857111562. 
  3. ^ WHO Model Formulary 2008 (PDF). World Health Organization. 2009. p. 303. ISBN 9789241547659. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Aqueous Calamine Cream BP - Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) - (eMC)". 18 November 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Hamilton, Richart (2015). Tarascon Pocket Pharmacopoeia 2015 Deluxe Lab-Coat Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 191. ISBN 9781284057560. 
  6. ^ a b Braun-Falco, Otto; Plewig, Gerd; Wolff, Helmut Heinrich; Burgdorf, Walter (2012). Dermatology (2 ed.). Springer Science & Business Media. p. 1724. ISBN 9783642979316. 
  7. ^ Ma, Joseph K. H.; Hadzija, Boka (2012). Basic Physical Pharmacy. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. p. 327. ISBN 9780763757342. 
  8. ^ Bendich, Adrianne; Deckelbaum, Richard J. (2016). Preventive Nutrition: The Comprehensive Guide for Health Professionals (5 ed.). Springer. p. 608. ISBN 9783319224312. 
  9. ^ "WHO Model List of Essential Medicines (19th List)" (PDF). World Health Organization. April 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  10. ^ "Calamine". International Drug Price Indicator Guide. Retrieved 8 December 2016. 
  11. ^ Calvert, James. "Zinc and Cadmium". Physics. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  12. ^, Inc. "Calamine, Powder, USP". Alphabetical Listing of Chemicals., Inc. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  13. ^ Martin (ed), Elizabeth A. (2012). Concise Medical Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. "calamine". ISBN 9780191727016. 
  14. ^ Richards, Alan W. "Zinc processing". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  15. ^ "Banning 415 Ingredients from Seven Categories of NonPrescription Drugs". Press Release. FDA. P92-27. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009. 
  16. ^ September 2, 2008 FDA Document

External linksEdit