Zinc pyrithione is the zinc complex of 1-hydroxy-2(1H)-pyridinethione, or more commonly, pyrithione. Pyrithione was first synthesized by E. Shaw and co-workers in 1950. The preparation of the zinc derivative was disclosed by Olin Mathieson in a 1956 British patent, but the compound has been used since the 1930s.
Zinc pyrithione was originally used as an antibacterial and antifungal agent. It is still used as an antifungal, primarily as a treatment for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. Its current antibacterial uses are treating Streptococcus and Staphylococcus infections and psoriasis, eczema, ringworm, and athlete’s foot. Its primary nonmedical use is as a component in exterior paints to protect against mildew and algae.
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