Choosing a Diaper Rash Cream

Diaper rash is frustratingly common for babies. Nearly every baby will develop some sort of rash at some time during the diapering stage. Although diaper rashes are common, they usually need to be treated​ and they are typically easily managed with diaper rash cream. 


Zinc Oxide

Baby diaper changing.

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Zinc oxide is a common ingredient in diaper rash creams. These creams are generally effective for treating mild to moderate irritations, but may not work as well for severe rashes. Brands of creams that contain zinc oxide include Desitin and Balmex. Generic creams containing zinc oxide work just as well and may save you some money.

You can slather on a good coating of zinc oxide cream to help fight off the irritating rash. These ointments have a particularly creamy consistency. They tend to glide on your baby's skin easily without requiring you to rub the cream into the skin. 


Butt Paste

The term "butt paste" may sound a little strange, but it certainly can do the job. Originally, butt pastes were only available by prescription and required a pharmacist to mix ointments to create the soothing compound. Now butt pastes are available in over-the-counter creams including Summers Laboratories Triple Paste and Blairex Boudreaux's Butt-Paste.

Depending on which butt paste you purchase, these creams might contain a blend of zinc oxide and other ingredients that increase the barrier between your baby's skin and his diaper, such as lanolin, beeswax, and/or balsam. Butt pastes were originally developed to heal particularly problematic diaper rashes, and they can be used on a regular basis if needed.


Hydrocortisone 1% Cream

Over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% cream is typically effective at reducing inflammation when applied first and then layered with another diaper rash cream. 

Use just a thin layer on the skin, no more than twice a day, and only for a few days if needed. Extended use of hydrocortisone can damage sensitive skin.


Lanolin Ointment

Lanolin, a natural ointment produced by sheep, is often used as an ingredient to treat damaged skin. In fact, you may already have some in your medicine cabinet. Lansinoh, a name brand, is a popular choice among parents looking for natural ingredients.

Cloth diapering parents often prefer lanolin over chemical ingredients. Lanolin may not affect the absorbency of the diaper or damage the waterproof outer layer as much as chemical ingredients can. Creams that contain calendula or red clover are also preferred for use with cloth diapers. 


Acid Mantle

Acid Mantle, a name brand product, is a cream that works to restore the skin's natural pH. Babies can experience something similar to a chemical burn when the skin comes into contact with strongly acidic urine or diarrhea. The exposure to this acid, which is not the same as the natural pH of the skin, can be rough on a baby's bottom. Acid Mantle, layered with a zinc oxide cream over top, can help to restore the pH level and soothe the burn of the rash.


Antifungal Cream

If you have determined that your baby has a diaper rash from a yeast infection, you'll need to turn to an antifungal ointment in order to get rid of the irritation. You can use over-the-counter ointments that contain nystatin, clotrimazole, or miconazole micatin. Alternatively, you may need to get a prescription from your pediatrician to properly treat the infection.

By Jennifer White
Jennifer White has authored parenting books and has worked in childcare and education fields for over 15 years.