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Diaper rash is a painful rash that can bother babies and worry caregivers. There are, however, a number of creams that may help alleviate symptoms.

The warm, moist environment inside a baby’s diaper, coupled with friction from movement and the presence of fungus and bacteria on the skin, can lead to diaper rash, which health experts also call diaper dermatitis.

Diaper rash affects an estimated 50–65% of babies. Diaper rash creams can reduce the contributing factors by creating a barrier between the skin and moisture and by lessening friction.

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Diaper rash cream both treats diaper rash and prevents further episodes. It provides a barrier between a baby’s skin and the diaper, urine, and feces that can cause diaper rash or make it worse.

It also prevents overhydration of the skin. Overhydration can cause the breakdown of the skin’s protective barriers, potentially leading to:

A diaper rash cream can coat and penetrate the skin, preventing moisture and irritants from further affecting the skin. It may also help the skin heal.

The friction between diapers and a baby’s skin is an additional factor in the development of diaper rash. Diaper rash cream can help prevent irritation caused by friction.

What are the dangers of untreated diaper rashes?

Without treatment, diaper rash increases the risk of additional fungal or bacterial infection.

Another potential concern is allergic contact dermatitis. However, some ingredients in diaper rash creams may also cause contact dermatitis in some cases.

It is advisable to consult a doctor about diaper rash creams that are less likely to lead to contact dermatitis.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria where possible:

  • Budget: MNT chooses diaper rash creams that suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: MNT selects products that clearly list all ingredients.
  • Skin concerns: Where appropriate, MNT chooses products that target a specific skin concern, such as dryness or oiliness.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for lower budgets: Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Maximum Strength

  • Price: around $4.94 on Amazon
  • Amount: 2 ounces (oz)
  • Pro: five-star rating based on more than 27,000 reviews on Amazon
  • Con: according to some reviews, the product’s odor

Boudreaux’s Butt Paste Maximum Strength version contains 40% zinc oxide, castor seed oil, mineral oil, and petrolatum.

It is also free from talc, preservatives, dyes, and parabens.

The paste is very thick and is best suited for treating moderate to highly irritated diaper rash.

Best balm stick: GroVia All Natural Magic Stick Baby Diaper Balm

  • Price: around $17.50 on Amazon
  • Amount: 2 oz
  • Pro: easy application
  • Con: a separate balm stick needed for each baby

This stick balm from GroVia is an alternative to creams, which can be messy.

The balm is best for minor skin irritation and as a skin protectant. It has natural skin-softening ingredients, such as grape seed, lavender, jojoba seed, and shea butter.

It is of note that if someone has more than one baby at home, each will need their own stick. This will prevent fungi and bacteria from spreading.

Best NSF International-certified: Honest Diaper Rash Cream

  • Price: around $10.75 on Amazon
  • Amount: 2.5 oz
  • Pro: free from a range of potential irritants
  • Con: the product’s texture

The Honest Company cream is free from dyes, synthetic fragrances, silicons, petrolatum, mineral oil, and lanolin.

It contains 14% non-nano zinc oxide, which will sit on top of the skin without penetrating it. It also contains skin softening oils that repel moisture, such as sunflower seed, coconut, and olive oil.

This cream has received certification from a product-testing company NSF International for its organic ingredients.

The cream is for moderately irritated diaper rash. People may need something more potent if they apply the cream for 7 days, and the diaper rash does not improve.

Best spray: Boogie Bottoms No-Rub Diaper Rash Spray

  • Price: $9.99
  • Amount: 1.7 fluid ounces (fl oz)
  • Pro: easy to use
  • Con: according to some reviews, a breakable spray nozzle

This diaper rash spray is a touchless alternative to traditional creams.

The active ingredient is 25% zinc oxide, and it does not contain fragrances, dyes, or parabens.

The product has a lock to help prevent curious babies from accidentally spraying it. Users must make sure to engage the lock between changing diapers.

  • Price: around $11.99 on Amazon
  • Amount: 1 pound (lb)
  • Pro: five-star rating based on more than 12,000 reviews on Amazon
  • Con: according to some reviews, the product’s odor

This A+D ointment contains 15.5% lanolin and 53.4% petrolatum, which helps prevent skin chafing and repels water.

The formulation is free from dyes, parabens, and phthalates.

It is of note, however, that the ingredients may stain cloth diapers. Some reviewers suggest using a protective liner between the cloth diaper and the ointment when applying.

Best healing ointment: Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment

  • Price: around $10.49 on Amazon
  • Amount: 7 oz
  • Pro: free from several potential irritants
  • Con: according to some reviews, troublesome packaging

Aquaphor Healing Ointment is safe for baby’s skin. It treats and prevents diaper rash and can also help with other types of skin irritation, including:

  • drool rash
  • eczema
  • chafed skin

The clear ointment contains petrolatum, mineral oil, glycerin, and lanolin.

Best hypoallergenic: Desitin Maximum Strength Baby Diaper Rash Cream

  • Price: around $10 on Amazon
  • Amount: 4 oz
  • Pro: five-star rating based on more than 24,000 reviews on Amazon
  • Con: according to some reviews, the product’s odor

Apart from 40% zinc oxide, this cream contains petrolatum, lanolin, talc, and cod liver oil.

The formula gives maximum strength treatment and protection for diaper rash, particularly overnight.

According to the company website, an estimated 90% of babies with diaper rash had noticeable relief within 12 hours of application.

Best for sensitive skin: Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Fragrance Free Diaper Cream

  • Price: around $11.99 on Amazon
  • Amount: 3 oz
  • Pro: hypoallergenic formula
  • Con: according to some reviews, the product’s texture

This plant-based diaper rash cream contains skin-soothing ingredients, including non-colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, and organic calendula.

The formula is not sticky and has a smooth texture that is diaper-friendly. It also contains 25% non-nano zinc oxide. The formulation is suitable for babies with sensitive skin.

Best for eczema: CeraVe Healing Ointment for Baby

  • Price: around $10.99 on Amazon
  • Amount: 3 oz
  • Pro: free from a range of potential irritants
  • Con: according to some reviews, products arriving unsealed

CeraVe claims that this ointment can treat both eczema and diaper rash woes.

The National Eczema Association awarded this product its Seal of Acceptance.

The ointment does not contain lanolin, which can irritate some babies’ skin, or fragrances. It does contain skin-softening ceramides that help create a barrier between moisture and the skin.

This multi-use ointment can help treat and prevent milder cases of diaper rash, but it may not help those with moderate diaper rashes.

Best balm: Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm

  • Price: around $12 on Amazon
  • Amount: 2 fl oz
  • Pro: certified organic and cruelty-free
  • Con: according to some reviews, the product’s odor

This diaper rash balm is 100% certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Active ingredients include organic herbs and oils, such as calendula, which is widely used in skin care. It also contains beeswax.

The balm does not contain petroleum, parabens, or artificial fragrances.

Best plant-based: BabyGanics Diaper Rash Cream

  • Price: around $20.32 on Amazon
  • Amount: 4 oz
  • Pro: free from several potential irritants
  • Con: may not suit all budgets

This plant-based product contains:

  • zinc oxide
  • aloe
  • jojoba
  • calendula
  • vitamins A, D, and E

It does not contain any parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, petroleum, artificial fragrances, or dyes.

Diaper rashes typically improve with timely care and ongoing optimal hygiene.

However, if symptoms do not improve after 2–3 days of home care with a diaper rash cream, a person should consult a doctor. A healthcare professional can identify the condition and, if necessary, prescribe further treatment.

Below, we answer some of the most common questions about diaper rash cream.

What is the most effective diaper rash cream?

For a diaper rash cream to be effective, it should contain ingredients that are clinically proven to help, such as:

  • zinc gluconate
  • taurine
  • panthenol
  • zinc oxide

What heals diaper rash fastest?

Research shows that the fastest remedies for diaper rash can cause greater problems in the long run.

Corticosteroids and antimicrobials may act quickly on symptoms. However, if a person uses them too much or in situations where they are not appropriate, they can damage the skin and cause bacterial resistance.

Practices that research has shown to be effective include:

  • using a diaper rash cream containing zinc gluconate, taurine, panthenol, and zinc oxide
  • switching to super-absorbent diapers
  • instating periods of diaper-free time to give a baby’s skin a chance to air-dry

What can you do for severe diaper rash?

The following actions can help address a severe diaper rash:

  • Contact a doctor to make sure the rash is not due to allergic contact dermatitis or a bacterial or fungal infection.
  • Use only nonallergenic diaper rash creams.
  • Avoid products containing irritants such as fragrances and preservatives, as well as more hazardous ingredients, such as boric acid, camphor, phenol, benzocaine, and salicylates.
  • A doctor may prescribe low to moderate-level corticosteroids for a short time.
  • If a doctor diagnoses a fungal or bacterial infection, they may prescribe oral or topical medications.

Diaper rash creams are useful for treating and preventing diaper rash, and a number of products are available.

Regular skin cleansing with gentle soap and water, changing diapers frequently, and allowing a baby to spend some time without a diaper on may also help treat the condition.

With regular applications to clean skin, people can help the baby overcome diaper rash.

If the diaper rash worsens or does not improve with treatment, a person should consider seeking guidance from a doctor.