Does Calamine Lotion Expire? (What To Know About Expired Calamine Lotion)

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Yes, the expiration date must be attached to the bottle or on the packaging of the product. According to researchers, products containing zinc oxide (the main ingredient of calamine lotion) spoil easily once exposed to air. An unopened bottle of calamine lotion stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight will have an extended shelf life past its expiry date. However, it might not be as fresh and effective as it was before its expiration. Properly discard the calamine lotion from your shelf if you notice changes in its texture and it emits a funny or funky smell.

Calamine lotion is probably everyone’s go-to itch relief topical medication.

Probably, one thing I like about it is how it gives a cooling effect on the skin as it dries. Its smell is also not as bad as other medicated lotions. 

Itching is a very common symptom of any skin condition which can affect you anytime. It often comes and goes without giving you any heads-up.

Of course, you may wonder if you can still use the calamine lotion from last year. But is that safe to do so?

What is calamine lotion?

Calamine lotion is an over-the-counter medication commonly used to treat itching and other mild skin irritations.

A woman is applying calamine lotion to her face to help ease the itching

Its active ingredient includes zinc oxide and 5% iron(III) oxide, also known as ferric oxide. 

Zinc oxide and ferric oxide treat diaper rash, dry and chapped skin, minor burns and scrapes, inflammation, and other minor skin irritations.

They’re also effective in protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. Moreover, it promotes wound healing and helps dry out oozing fluid from minor skin irritations.

Calamine comes in clear or light-ish pink lotion. 

Zinc oxide is typically a white powder, and iron(III) oxide has a rusty-red pigment. These two substances and other ingredients create the calamine lotion’s light pink-ish color.

What are the uses of calamine lotion?

Calamine lotion is very effective for itching or pruritus, stinging, and burning sensations associated with minor skin conditions like the following:

Remember that calamine lotion will not cure these skin conditions. It will only relieve the symptoms. Please seek medical attention if your skin condition is severe. 

Calamine lotion won’t prevent you from acquiring Lyme disease after a tick bite nor heal you from bites of venomous or disease-carrying species. 

Warnings when using calamine lotion

Calamine lotion is for external use only! 

Do not swallow or use on your eyes or inside your nose, mouth, anal area, or genitals. 

The product may cause mild side effects like redness, swelling, or new pain in the affected area where you applied the lotion. 

Please discontinue the use of calamine lotion and contact your doctor if allergic reaction symptoms occur. 

Symptoms will include hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the tongue, throat, or face.

Its also recommended that you only use calamine solution as indicated in the instructions on the medicine or as advised by your doctor because overuse could lead to dry skin and more irritations. 

Please note that calamine lotion won’t treat the underlying cause of itching or inflammation of your skin.

So, please schedule a check-up with a healthcare professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatments.

Additional safety precautions

  1. Don’t apply to a young infant (under six months) without a doctor’s advice. 
  2. Please keep this lotion away from smoke or fire. 
  3. Store calamine lotion at a cool room temperature away from moisture or direct sunlight. Don’t refrigerate or freeze.
  4. Keep it out of reach from children.
  5. Please seek permission from your doctor before using or mixing two medications.

How to use calamine lotion

Below are the quick and easy ways to use calamine lotion:

  1. First, make sure to clean and dry the affected area.
  2. Shake the bottle well to mix the ingredients thoroughly.
  3. Moisten a pledget or a cotton ball with the lotion.
  4. Gently apply it to the affected area(s).
  5. Allow the lotion to dry on the skin.
  6. Clean your hands after applying.

Additional guidelines in using calamine lotion

After using, you may wash any fabrics or clothing that has come into contact with calamine lotion to avoid buildup and staining.

The University of Illinois Extension shares some helpful tips for removing stains from calamine lotion on your washable fabrics and carpets.

For small insect bites and stings or acne lesions, you can use cotton wool or a pad to apply and press the lotion on the affected area.

Afterward, gently rub the lotion before washing your hands.

You can apply calamine lotion before bed and leave it on overnight to work on your acne spots.

But, if you have sensitive skin or severe acne, you definitely shouldn’t do this! It may dry your skin too much and worsen your skin condition.

To relieve itching due to eczema or other related skin conditions, you may apply calamine lotion on the affected areas to soothe symptoms.

You can also take oral antihistamines like Benadryl or Claritin and see if your condition improves.

Please see your dermatologist if your symptoms worsen.

You may need other medications like steroids to help with inflammation.

Don’t forget to use good-quality moisturizer to prevent moisture loss from your skin.

Does calamine lotion/powder expire?

See the bottle or packaging for the specific expiration date of the product.

Please, discard the bottle once it expires. Although using calamine lotion or powder past the expiration date is safe, it’s not highly recommended.

The expiration date tells you when a product is still 100% fresh, effective and safe to use or take. 

So, when you use calamine lotion past its expiration date, its ingredients lose their potency and would be lesser effective in relieving your symptoms.

Additionally, most expired products are prone to bacterial and fungal growth.

You don’t want to cause infection by using expired calamine lotion.

How to know if calamine lotion has expired?

You can quickly tell if your calamine lotion is expired when you notice a funny or weird smell from the lotion, its consistency and color changes, and the texture becomes chunky or separated.

Can you still use expired calamine lotion?

If you’ve got an unopened bottle of calamine lotion that expired last year, you can still use it but make sure to examine its texture and smell. 

Take note to store it from direct sunlight and tightly seal its cap close. 

Consider also that calamine lotion contains zinc oxide that, when opened and exposed to air, it’ll spoil quickly. 

Some experts believe that products with benzene, titanium dioxide, or zinc oxide could only last their freshness up to a few months after being opened.

You can check out more related information about the expiration dates of medicines on this article.


How long is Benadryl suitable to use after expiration?

Benadryl that’s expired over six months earlier should still work and is unlikely to do you any harm.

However, it should’ve been stored in a proper, cool, dry place away from direct sunlight in its original packaging or container.

Please note that expired Benadryl won’t work 100% on your symptoms.

Some tablets and capsules like Benadryl are generally stable past expiration dates if stored away from moisture and heat. 


Aside from storing medications in a proper location, it’s also best to practice disposing of expired medications, which are probably no more useful. 

Maybe you think it’s a waste to throw leftover calamine lotion, especially when the bottle is still filled halfway.

That’s perfectly fine if you make sure it’s tightly closed and stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, and you’ll be using it within a few months after opening.

Note that expired medications, especially non-tablets or capsules, are at risk of bacterial and fungal growth, which could cause infection once applied on irritated skin. 

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Reana Jean Cuevas
Mabuhay! I'm Reana Jean Cuevas. A healthy body means living well with no worries-just happiness and more life adventures. Taking care of my body and well-being is an investment for my career and future. I was a volunteer at the Philippine Red Cross. I joined the training to become a first-aider and be able to provide other health and safety services in my community. I love discussing anything but mainly first-aid, home remedies, and women's health.

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