This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics Inorganic Substances", by Charles D. F. Phillips. Also available from Amazon: Materia medica and therapeutics.
Soluble salts of zinc, such as the chloride, sulphate, and acetate, are readily absorbed, and pass into the blood probably as albuminates. The oxide and the carbonate are also dissolved to some extent by the acids of the gastric juice, and then slowly absorbed; independently of clinical evidence of this, the oxide has been detected by Schlossberger in the urine, and by Michaelis in venous blood.
Zinc does not seem to be deposited in the tissues in the same manner, or for so long a period, as mercury, lead, or copper, although recently Lechartier and Bellamy have detected it in the bodies of animals to whom the metal had been previously administered (Medical Record, i., 1877). The soluble salts are eliminated soon after being taken, but the insoluble ones are not found in the excretions until four or five days afterward (Michaelis). The metal passes out mainly by the bile and the intestinal secretions; in smaller amount by the urine.
Zinci oxidum: dose, 1 to 10 gr. or more, in pill or powder. Unguentum zinci: made with oxide of zinc and ben-zoated lard. Zinci carbonas: dose, 1 to 10 gr., in pill or powder. Zinci sulphas: dose, as a tonic or astringent, 1 to 5 gr. or upward, in pill or solution; as an emetic, 10 to 30 gr.; for an injection or lotion, from 1 to 10 gr. in the ounce of water. Zinci acetas: dose, 1 to 2 gr. as a tonic; 10 to 20 gr. as an emetic; as an injection or lotion, 1 to 10 gr. to the ounce of water. Zinci valerianas: dose, 1 to 5 gr. and upward. Zinci chloridum: dose, 1/2 to 2 gr. Pasta zinci chloridi: made with flour and mucilage. Liquor zinci chloridi, British Pharmacopoeia (contains about 36 gr. in the fluid ounce, v. p. 308), not used internally. Zinci nitras (not officinal): used as a caustic in paste.
[Preparations, U. S. P. - Zinci acetas; Zinci carbonas prcecipitata; Ceratum zinci carbonatis (1 part to 5 of ointment); Zinci chloridum; Liquor zinci chloridi; Zinci oxidum; Unguentum zinci oxidi (80 gr. in 1 oz.); Zinci sulphas; Zinci valerianas.]
The oxide and the carbonate of zinc, in powder, act mechanically as absorbents and sedatives. The sulphate and the acetate, in the solid state, act as efficient, but not very severe, caustics, if the epidermis be removed: in dilute solution they act as astringents. The chloride and nitrate exert a strongly caustic effect by virtue of their affinity for water, and their power of coagulating albuminous material; the former especially, being deliquescent, penetrates deeply into the tissues, and causes severe burning pain; the eschar produced is white and hard, and separates in five or six days; when formed from deep tissues it is of spongy character, but dry on exposed surfaces. Zinc chloride is a powerful disinfectant, and even in dilute solution proves fatal to germs, vibriones, etc.; according to Calvert's experiments, it is only equalled in efficacy by mercurial chlorides and the tar acids (Lancet, ii., 1873; Medical Times, ii., 1852, p. 101).