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The Best Diaper Rash Creams (And What to Avoid)

best diaper rash creams




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

It's heartbreaking to see your baby uncomfortable and squirming on the changing table because of a diaper rash. My daughter has super sensitive skin and is more prone to painful diaper rashes when she’s battling an illness, so I've become quite picky about the products I use on her skin. In my experience, the secret to avoiding diaper rashes is to use a highly absorbent diaper, and to select a cream made with safe, simple ingredients when you notice one start to creep in.

Just like we've delved into finding the best diapers and diaper bags, it's now time to tackle another essential item – the best diaper rash creams. With the right product, those pesky rashes won't stand a chance. Whether you're dealing with mild irritation or a stubborn rash, we've got the scoop on which creams will make diaper changes a whole lot smoother.

best diaper rash creams

Choosing a diaper rash cream

The key is to look for products that combat irritation and provide a protective barrier to prevent future outbreaks. Here are some considerations when selecting a diaper rash cream:

Types of diaper rash creams

You'll likely encounter two main types of creams to treat baby’s diaper rash with different active ingredients: petrolatum (or petroleum/petroleum jelly) based creams and zinc oxide ones. Now, I must say, I have a preference. Although petroleum-based creams are popular for their moisture-locking properties, I'm not a fan. Petroleum-derived products are made from fossil fuels. They’re not eco-friendly and there’s a risk for impurities and contamination. Plus, there's something about applying something so closely related to petroleum on my kids’ skin that doesn't sit right with me.

On the flip side, I prefer zinc oxide creams and they come highly recommended as a diaper rash treatment. Zinc oxide is a mineral that provides a protective barrier around the skin, while repelling moisture – a key factor in preventing diaper rashes in the first place. Zinc oxide is gentle on the skin, making it an excellent choice for for offering quick relief to sensitive bums. 

Ingredients to look for in a diaper rash cream

Besides zinc oxide, keep an eye out for these skin-soothing natural ingredients that can make all the difference in keeping your baby’s skin happy and healthy:

  1. Aloe vera: Known for its cooling and healing properties, aloe vera is a natural way to soothe and hydrate irritated skin.
  2. Calendula: This plant extract is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and healing capabilities, perfect for calming rashes and promoting skin regeneration.
  3. Lanolin: A natural oil derived from sheep's wool, lanolin helps to create a protective barrier on the skin, locking in moisture and preventing irritation.
  4. Coconut oil: With its antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, coconut oil not only moisturizes the skin but also helps ward off infection.
  5. Shea butter: This rich, creamy butter is deeply moisturizing and can help restore the skin's natural barrier.
  6. Vitamin E: An antioxidant that supports skin health by fighting free radicals and soothing inflammation.

Keep in mind, while these ingredients are generally considered safe and beneficial for skin care, it's always a good idea to perform a patch test or consult with your pediatrician.

best diaper rash creams

Ingredients to Avoid in Diaper Rash Creams

Just like I'm picky about the diapers I use for my kids (hint: only non-toxic ones make the cut), I'm equally careful about skincare products. Here are some ingredients to steer clear of:

  1. Parabens: These preservatives are commonly used in cosmetics to extend shelf life, but there are concerns about their potential estrogenic activity.
  2. Phthalates: Often found in fragranced products, phthalates can disrupt hormone function, which isn't something you want for your baby's developing system.
  3. Fragrances: While they give baby products a pleasant scent, natural or synthetic fragrances can be irritating to sensitive skin, leading to more discomfort for your little one.
  4. Dyes: Artificial colors add no benefits to the cream and can cause skin sensitivities or reactions.
  5. Propylene glycol: Used in many products as a moisturizing agent, it can potentially irritate the skin, especially in anyone with a pre-existing skin condition.
best diaper rash creams

Our top picks for the best diaper rash creams

Best overall: EllaOla Organic Diaper Rash Cream

best diaper rash creams

I love this fragrance-free diaper rash cream because it's developed in collaboration with pediatric dermatologists and carries the National Eczema Association Seal, which assures me of its quality. It boasts 14% naturally derived zinc oxide and organic plant-based ingredients, forming a protective barrier while nourishing the skin. Other noteworthy ingredients include beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, Carnauba wax, sunflower seed oil, algae, polyglyceryl-2 dipolyhydroxystearate, and castor oil. This is the best cream.

Best for severe diaper rashes: Buddle Diaper Rash System

best diaper rash creams

This unique 3-part diaper rash system is designed to fight the toughest rashes. Step one features a gentle foaming cleanser, designed to whisk away impurities. Next up is a potent rash paste, boasting 40% zinc oxide to soothe inflamed skin. Finally, there's a thick cream that not only prevents rashes but also helps maintain pH balance. All products are fragrance-free and packed with soothing ingredients like chamomile, Mexican hyssop, arnica montana, ceramides, honey, beeswax, aloe, and lactobacillus.

Best budget: Pipette Diaper Rash Cream

best diaper rash creams

We love this fragrance-free diaper rash cream because it's made from plant-derived ingredients and contains 14% non-nano zinc oxide. It's also hypoallergenic and has been clinically tested for safety. And the best part? No parabens, petrolatum, fake smells, lanolin, phthalates, or mineral oil in sight.

Best Probiotic Ointment: BioGaia Aldermis Probiotic Ointment

best diaper rash creams

This probiotic-based diaper rash ointment contains a probiotic, Limosilactobacillus reuteri , to maintain a healthy skin barrier while balancing skin bacteria. It contains shea butter, canola oil, hydrogenated vegetable oil and is free from fragrance, dyes, parabens, phthalates, phenoxyethanol, and steroids.

Best Balm: Motherlove Diaper Balm

best diaper rash creams

This organic diaper balm is a fan-favorite for multiple reasons. First, it is free of petroleum, petroleum by-products, parabens, phthalates, or synthetic fillers. Second, it’s made from clinically tested ingredients that don't cause irritation including, extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, Oregon grape root, myrrh gum, yarrow herb, and calendula flower. It has a great texture, and is also super easy to apply.

Is diaper cream necessary at each diaper change?

It is not necessary to use diaper cream at every diaper change, but it can go a long way in being a helpful preventative measure. It’s recommended to apply diaper cream after each bowel movement or if the baby has a particularly sensitive skin. It also doesn’t hurt to take a more proactive approach by “adding extra barrier ointment made of zinc oxide with every diaper change,” says Dr. Sheilagh Maguiness, a double board certified dermatologist and pediatric dermatologist, and Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota when speaking with us on how to prevent diaper rash

If you find yourself applying diaper cream often, consider a diaper cream applicator. It will make it easier to spread, and also keeps fingers clean between diaper changes.

What are some other ways to prevent diaper rashes?

Here are some diaper rash prevention strategies:

  1. Use an extra absorbent diaper. My favorite diapers are Coterie.
  2. Make sure to change your baby’s diaper every 2-3 hours so your baby’s bottom isn't sitting in a wet or soiled diaper for too long.
  3. Avoid products with fragrance and essential oils which can cause skin irritation. This is why I love Coterie wipes.
  4. Bathe your child frequently.

Can I use an all-over cream instead of diaper rash cream?

While an all-over cream can provide moisture and protect your baby's skin, it may not be as effective in treating diaper rashes. Diaper rash creams often contain ingredients that target the specific causes of diaper rash such as irritation or fungal infection. However, if your child has sensitive skin, using an all-over cream may be worth a shot. I like the Roe Biome Barrier Cream because it hydrates dry skin, acts as a skin protectant by supporting the liquid barrier of the skin, and contains antioxidants to boost collagen production.

Featured Image by klebercordeiro from Getty Images


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