Zinc is an extremely common element found in many metal objects, used in many drugs, and occurs naturally in many foods, especially meats. A small amount of zinc is vital for good health. Zinc allergies are extremely rare and are cause for serious concern. A zinc allergy cannot be self-diagnosed; a doctor must determine the nature of the allergy.

Function of and Myths About Zinc

Zinc is one of the vital elements for human health, as it is the most abundant metal in the human system next to iron. It serves a vital role in processing proteins and protecting cells from disease. However, it is believed that zinc can cure colds or help injuries heal more quickly, which has not been proven scientifically. The USDA dictates that people only need between 8 and 11 mg per day, which can easily be consumed with food.

Allergy Vs. Overdose

Due to the belief that zinc can stop colds, there are many zinc supplements on the market, and dosages from these supplements can range up to 20 times the level needed for normal health, making overdose or reaching the threshold of an allergic reaction much higher. Zinc does not deposit in the body and will be flushed out in a day or so. If the symptoms persist, see a doctor immediately and inform him of your suspicions.


Symptoms of zinc allergy commonly occur in the gastric tract, and include vomiting, diarrhea and irritation of the mucus membranes. If a zinc spray is used, irritation of the nose and sinuses can result. Rarely, mouth sores may appear. Often these symptoms will resolve themselves in a day or so as the zinc naturally leaves the body. It is extremely rare for a person to be exposed to zinc for prolonged periods without taking supplements.

Possible Sources of Zinc Exposure

Zinc is found in high concentrations in many meats, especially beef, lamb and seafood. Zinc is also a commonly used metal in alloys, and can be found anywhere you travel. However, zinc generally has to be ingested to trigger an allergic reaction. Metal shops, mines and electronic manufacturing facilities all will have large amounts of metal dust in the air containing zinc. Wear a mask in these locations, and avoid them entirely if possible.


Treatment of a zinc allergy is fairly simple: Avoid ingesting zinc. For those with a high sensitivity, it is advisable to limit your intake of red meat and seafood to one serving per day, which should provide enough zinc to allow proper body functioning without triggering a reaction. Limit the amount of alloyed metal in your home, and avoid any locations where zinc may be floating in the air.