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Your baby will likely encounter a diaper rash (or five) within their first few years of life. This irritation is common and typically appears as red, warm, inflamed skin with raised bumps.
Diaper rash can be caused by several factors, including diaper change frequency, chafing and rubbing, and sensitive skin.
While it’s important to first determine the cause of the rash, you can give your baby fast relief by applying ointments or creams to the affected area.
With the large number of diaper rash creams on the market, it can feel overwhelming to pick the right one. There are a lot of factors to consider, which may include a product’s ingredients and how severe your baby’s rash is.
Regardless of which brand you choose, there are a few active ingredients that you should look out for. These are known to work best at healing and protecting babies from diaper rash:
- Zinc oxide: a powdery mineral that glides on the skin and creates an impermeable barrier to block moisture
- Calendula: a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory oil derived from marigold flowers
- Aloe vera: a soother often added to help revive inflamed skin
- Lanolin: a moisturizer that creates a barrier over the skin to help prevent rashes
- Petroleum: a moisturizer that protects the skin from rashes
There are also some ingredients you may want to be cautious of, especially if you’re looking for an all natural or organic product. These include:
- mineral oils
- toxins, such as aluminum starch octenylsuccinate
- artificial waxes
- artificial dyes and fragrances
Petroleum is also an ingredient to avoid if you’re opting for an all natural product.
For this list, we considered use of the above-mentioned ingredients, as well as:
- price points
- the use of chemical additives
- how quickly the ointment treats diaper rash
We’ve aimed to present a range of quality products that can help with even the worst diaper rash.
- $ = under $1.50 per ounce
- $$ = $1.50–$3.00 per ounce
- $$$ = over $3.00 per ounce
If you’re looking for a diaper rash ointment with no phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, or sodium laurel sulfate, check out Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment.
One of the benefits of this product is that the ingredients are all natural. The ointment contains almond oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter, which all work to soften and recondition your baby’s skin.
Reviews: A few reviewers shared that their tubes had hard granules in the mix. While this ointment claims to be cloth diaper safe, some report that it leaves a white residue that’s difficult to wash out without stripping.
Aquaphor is a multipurpose ointment that can be used for diaper rash, chapped cheeks, cuts, scrapes, burns, eczema, and more skin irritations.
It helps prevent diaper rash by protecting the skin. In fact, it’s listed as being able to relieve diaper rash within 6 hours of application.
Reviews: A few reviewers shared that the ointment is quite greasy. Still, it’s great for sensitive skin because it’s fragrance-, preservative-, and dye-free.
When other diaper rash treatments fail you, try Triple Paste. This medicated ointment is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and “guaranteed” to help heal your baby’s raw skin — or else you can get your money back.
Its active ingredient is zinc oxide, which works to repel water away from skin and create a safe barrier for healing.
Reviews: The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, though there are a few customers who shared that it simply didn’t work to treat their baby’s rash.
American-made Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm was formulated by a nurse herbalist and is free from toxins, petroleum, mineral oil, vitamin E, phthalates, and parabens.
The solution is naturally antibacterial and antifungal, with organic herbs and essential oils like calendula. The balm allows skin to breathe rather than creating a barrier that might otherwise trap bacteria against the skin. It also claims to be safe for use on cloth diapers.
Reviews: Though most reviewers rave about this balm, a few shared that it didn’t do much to help their child’s rash. It’s also one of the most expensive products on this list.
Plant-based ingredients are also the focus of Babyganics Diaper Rash Cream. The solution contains zinc oxide, calendula, aloe, and jojoba oil. These ingredients work to both treat and prevent diaper rash.
Babyganics Diaper Rash Cream is also free of parabens, phthalates, petroleum, mineral oil, artificial fragrance, and dye. As with many other natural products, this cream wasn’t tested on animals.
Reviews: Several reviewers shared that the product doesn’t go on the skin smoothly and isn’t quite thick or long-lasting enough to get the job done. A few even mentioned that their children had an adverse reaction (stinging) to the ingredients.
Boudreaux’s Butt Paste is a popular choice among new parents. It boasts an easy-on, easy-off formula along with a pleasant scent to avoid overwhelming your baby.
It’s not the most natural of the bunch, though. It has boric acid, castor oil, mineral oil, white wax, and petrolatum on its ingredients list. Still, it’s effective and contains a solid 16 percent of zinc oxide.
If you’re concerned about some of the contents in its classic paste, Boudreaux offers an all-natural cream as well, which contains 40 percent zinc oxide.
Reviews: Several reviewers highly praise this product, even for the worst cases of diaper rash. Reviewers also say that the product has a thick consistency, so a little goes a long way.
Desitin diaper creams have been around for a long time. The company’s diaper cream uses zinc oxide to create a barrier on your baby’s skin to help soothe and prevent rashes.
Desitin Daily Defense is fragrance-free, contains no allergens, and has a creamy formula to help keep baby’s skin moisturized.
The ingredients work immediately against inflammation that causes the redness, warmth, and pain. It also happens to be one of the most cost-effective options on this list.
Reviews: Several people complained that the product doesn’t have a safety seal.
Weleda Diaper Cream is made with white mallow flowers. It’s one of the more expensive options on this list, but it’s made with fair-trade beeswax and pharmaceutical-grade zinc oxide.
It’s also free from synthetic preservatives, fragrances, and petroleum. Plus, it’s formulated especially for sensitive and atopic skin in babies.
Reviews: As far as effectiveness goes, most reviewers give this product 5 stars.
With A+D Zinc Oxide Diaper Rash Treatment Cream, you can stop a diaper rash in its tracks with powerful zinc oxide. It also contains dimethicone to treat itching and aloe vera to moisturize.
The cream creates a barrier between wet diapers and your baby, so their skin has a chance to heal.
A+D also offers a Diaper Rash Prevention Cream for everyday use that contains lanolin and petrolatum, which combine to help seal out wetness.
Reviews: Some reviewers don’t like that both products contain paraffins, which are possible carcinogens according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Cetaphil Soothe & Protect Cream is another more natural option. Its active ingredient is allantoin, which helps prevent dry, itchy skin as well as minor skin irritations.
You won’t find any parabens, fragrances, or petrolatum in the mix. Plus, its nongreasy formula is suited for the most sensitive skin types.
Reviews: Reviewers share that this cream works great for prevention and mild rashes, but it doesn’t do much for the worst irritations.
Grandma El’s Diaper Rash Ointment gets high scores for being cloth diaper–safe, going on clear, and being manufactured in the United States.
This brand doesn’t contain zinc oxide. But it does have vitamin E, lanolin, and amber petrolatum, which is used as a healing and protecting agent.
The company claims that this product also works well for eczema, heat rash, minor burns, cradle cap, and more.
Reviews: A few customers aren’t happy with the petrolatum content, since it’s a byproduct of petroleum. Others revealed that, despite the claims and positive reviews, their cloth diapers didn’t fare well with use.
To prevent avoidable rashes, try to ensure that you change your baby’s diaper promptly whenever it’s wet or unclean. You may also want to try different brands of diaper rash ointments to see which one works best on your baby’s skin.
If your little one’s rash persists and doesn’t respond to habit changes or ointments, you should call your baby’s pediatrician.
Some skin conditions are more severe and require more advanced treatments. These conditions can include:
Occasionally, certain foods or medications might make rashes and irritations worse. That’s why it’s recommended that you treat the root cause of the irritation rather than the symptoms alone.
If you notice an adverse reaction to any diaper creams and ointments, you should contact your baby’s pediatrician immediately.