Zinc (Zn) affects many systems in the body. Zinc is a component of many enzymes, including some that are essential to repair wounds. This trace element protects against UV radiation, enhances wound healing. All body tissues contain zinc; in skin, it is 5 to 6 times more concentrated in the epidermis than the dermis. Topical zinc is commonly used in wound therapy although the useful properties of zinc has just been documented in zinc-deficient people who were given zinc orally.
Zinc has different activities that may promote debridement and wound healing. Most importantly, this mineral is a cofactor for numerous metalloproteinases, including collagenases that are important in the breakdown of connective tissue collagen. Zinc lack has been associated with delayed wound healing, reduced skin cell production and reduced wound strength. Zinc levels of less than 100µg/100mL have been linked with impaired wound healing.
Zinc’s positive properties on wound healing were discovered incidentally during animal studies in 1953. Thenceforth, zinc has been found to play a role in metalloenzyme activity as well as in nucleic acid and protein metabolism. In animal-based studies, zinc lack decreased the tensile strength of surgical wounds. This result may be partly understood by noting that 20 percent of the body’s zinc is stored in the skin and is concentrated in the epithelium and related structures. A study reported in the 2006 edition of Annals of Burns and Fire Disasters demonstrated that zinc sped repair and healing of burned skin when taken internally by patients. In a study found the healing time of a surgical wound was reduced by 43% with oral of 50 mg of zinc three times per day, in the form of zinc sulphate.
One study reported that people with pressure ulcers had lower blood levels of iron and zinc than did people without pressure ulcers, and preliminary findings showed zinc supplements could help some types of skin ulcer. In a study of 150 mg zinc per day in patients with skin ulcers due to sickle cell anaemia found that the healing rate was nearly three times faster in the zinc group than in the placebo group after 6 months. Another study of people with skin ulcers due to leprosy found that 50 mg of zinc per day in addition to anti-leprosy drug resulted in complete healing in most patients within six to twelve weeks.
People with chronic leg ulcers have abnormal zinc metabolism and low serum zinc levels and doctors usually treat skin ulcers with zinc supplements. The authors of a systematic review concluded that zinc sulfate might be beneficial for treating leg ulcers in some people who have low serum zinc levels. Supplement with 150 mg of zinc per day improved healing in a study of elderly people suffering from chronic leg ulcers. Topically applied zinc using zinc-containing bandages has improved amelioration of leg ulcers in studies of both zinc-deficient and elderly people. In study of the efficacy of locally applied zinc oxide on the healing of leg ulcers, 37 geriatric patients were treated with either a gauze compress medicated with zinc oxide or an identical compress without zinc oxide. The therapy was evaluated from ulcer size measurements and the presence or absence of granulation, and ulcer debridement over a period of 8 weeks. The zinc-treated patients responded significantly better than the placebo-treated people. Scientists found that infections and the deterioration of ulcers were less common in zinc oxide treated individuals.
Zinc Copper Imbalance
Zinc can block the absorption of copper. Long-term zinc supplement at these levels should be accompanied by supplements of copper. Long-term zinc supplement requires 1–2 mg of copper per day to prevent copper deficiency. Generally, if 30 mg of oral zinc are taken each day, it should be accompanied by 2 mg of copper.