Remember when you were lying in bed with chickenpox and your mum doused you in a pink lotion to make that relentless itch go away? Ah – fun times.
That was calamine. And it ain’t just for chicken pox. Calamine is a skin saviour you can call to scratch any kind of itch.
Got sensitive skin that got red and inflamed – again? Check.
Had a close brush with poison ivy? Check.
Stayed too long under the sun and now have a bad sunburn? Check.
No matter what upset your skin, calamine can rescue it. Here’s what makes it so soothing:
What The Heck Is Calamine?
Calamine isn’t an ingredient. It’s two. WT… Let’s start again…
Calamine is the combination of zinc oxide and ferric (a.k.a. iron) oxide. It’s a pink lotion that has anti-itching and antiseptic properties to calm down sensitive skin.
FYI, calamine CAN’T treat any skin conditions. It only soothes itchiness and all the other symptoms of inflammation.
What Skin Conditions Can Calamine Soothe?
You can use calamine to soothe any itchy condition, including:
- Insect bits
- Insect stings
- Poison ivy
Plus any other itch that just won’t go away!
How Does Calamine Soothe Skin?
Zinc oxide. Yep, the UV filter in mineral sunscreen. It doesn’t just protect you from UV rays. It has all sorts of tricks up its sleeve:
- Anti-bacterial: It damages the cell membrane of bacteria, so they die off.
- Anti-pruritic: It soothes itching by inhibiting the release of histamine (the hormone that makes you itch).
- Anti-inflammatory: It reduces… well, inflammation (the cause of your skin’s tantrum) by – again – inhibiting the release of histamine.
- Skin protectant: It forms a barrier on the skin that protects you against irritants (including itchiness), giving skin time to heal.
- UV filter: It provides broad spectrum protection from all UV rays.
In other words, it protects damaged and inflamed skin, soothes the itch and gives it time to recover.
Related: Is Zinc Oxide The Best UV Filter Ever?
What Does Ferric Oxide Do?
Remember when I told you calamine is a mix of zinc oxide and ferric oxide? You already know what zinc oxide does – the bulk of the work! So, what’s the job of ferric oxide, then?
It gives the lotion a pink colour.
I’m not kidding. If you’ve ever used a sunscreen with zinc oxide, you know all too well it can leave a white, ghastly cast on your skin. Ugh.
Ferric oxide’s a rusty red. Mix it with white zinc oxide and you get a cute pink shade. Now you’re more likely to slather that on your skin, aren’t you?
What Are The Best Products With Calamine?
- Boots Calamine Lotion BP (£1.39): Available at Boots
- Care Aqueous Calamine Cream (£3.40): Available at Amazon
- Uriage Pruriced Soothing Cream (£12.65): Available at Escentuals
The Bottom Line
Got an itch that just won’t go away? Get yourself some calamine. From sunburns to eczema and bug bites, this baby soothes them all.
Have you tried calamine? Share your experience in the comments below.