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Chronic venous leg ulcers – role of topical zinc

Authors Maher S

Received 11 January 2015

Accepted for publication 13 April 2015

Published 3 June 2015 Volume 2015:2 Pages 95—100

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CWCMR.S80750

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Marco Romanelli


Sara F Maher

Physical Therapy Program, Department of Healthcare Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, USA

Abstract: Topical zinc has been used in the treatment of wounds for over 3,000 years, and is reported to have antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and wound healing properties. Fourteen studies were identified and reviewed, to assess the efficacy of this treatment modality as either a bandage or skin protectant in the treatment of venous ulcers. The authors of three studies reported improved healing time or success rate in wounds treated with zinc-based products. However, the authors of one study attributed the faster healing rate mainly to the extra compression (that improved venous blood return), delivered by the non-elastic paste bandage, and not by the zinc oxide alone. The quality of evidence is fair, as 50% of the studies were conducted prior to 2000 and 50% of the studies utilized fewer than 45 patients randomized to two or more groups. Other treatments have been reported to be more cost-effective than zinc, including hydrocolloids, four-layer compression systems, and CircAid Thera-boots. Finally, zinc was reported to be less comfortable, less easy to use, and caused increased pain, in comparison to other products on the market. This literature review, therefore, demonstrated that current evidence is insufficient to determine the effectiveness of zinc-based products in the treatment of venous wounds. Future research is needed focusing on larger, high-quality trials with an emphasis on quality of life issues and cost-effectiveness of treatment.

Keywords: chronic wounds, leg ulcers, venous insufficiency, topical zinc

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