best cream for diaper rash
Learn about ingredients to look for in a diaper rash cream, and how to soothe your baby’s sensitive skin

At some point, you may open up your baby’s diaper to find a red, inflamed rash on the bottom. Diaper rash is a common skin irritation that is usually caused by wet or infrequently changed diapers, triggered by moisture and friction, and sometimes yeast. 

While diaper rash can be painful for your baby, skin sensitivity and chafing can be soothed with diaper rash creams along with other home remedies. However, since there are so many options, it can be difficult to decide which cream to buy.

When selecting a cream or ointment, look for ingredients that contain petroleum jelly, which can soothe and moisturize the skin, or zinc oxide, which can protect the skin from further irritation. Antifungal creams can help if there is a fungal infection on the skin.

If your little one’s rash is severe, your pediatrician may be able to recommend an appropriate cream after ruling out other causes.

5 Best creams for diaper rash

Choosing the most effective cream for diaper rash usually entails diagnosing the cause of the rash and then experimenting with various solutions to discover which one works best. Diaper rash cream has a variety of chemicals that make it effective, and not all creams have the same contents. Zinc oxide, hydrocortisone, lanolin, and petroleum jelly are all common active components in diaper rash cream. Most over-the-counter lotions are usually effective for diaper rash, but if the rash persists, a doctor may need to prescribe a stronger cream or prescription medications. Antifungal lotions are commonly prescribed for diaper rash caused by yeast.

  • Zinc oxide: One of the most common chemicals in diaper rash lotion is zinc oxide. It may be the best option for the usual diaper rash, but it may not be powerful enough for more serious cases. Creams that contain this component are typically simple to apply and cost less than other creams. Zinc oxide creams are a fantastic choice to try initially before moving on to brands with a different active ingredient because of their low cost and effectiveness.
  • Hydrocortisone: Hydrocortisone is well-known for efficiently removing the rash and redness produced by a wide range of issues. If zinc oxide treatments are ineffective, creams that contain this component may be the best option. Hydrocortisone is commonly used to reduce inflammation. However, because of the sensitivity of a baby's skin, it should be taken with caution. It's not advisable to use it every time you change your diaper or for an extended period. Two applications each day should suffice for the rash, and if the rash persists after a few days, seek medical assistance.
  • Lanolin: Lanolin is a natural component that can be found in several diaper rash creams. It helps avoid irritation by acting as a barrier between the diaper and skin, and it provides therapeutic properties that calm inflamed skin. Breastfeeding women frequently use lanolin-based treatments to comfort and cure painful nipples. For people who want to avoid chemicals, lanolin diaper rash treatments may be the best option, but make sure to read the ingredients list carefully. Not all lanolin-containing products are completely natural.
  • Petroleum jelly: Petroleum jelly is an active ingredient in a number of popular diaper rash treatments. Although petroleum jelly is better at preventing than curing diaper rash, some parents swear by its effectiveness. It's safe to use at every diaper change and performs a good job of keeping moisture in. The sole disadvantage of petroleum jelly lotion for diaper rash is that it is frequently messy and can stain clothing or cloth diapers.
  • Alternative medicine: Aloe vera, Witch hazel, Human breast milk, Calendula, and shampoo clay (bentonite) can reduce diaper rash. 


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What causes a diaper rash?

Diaper rash can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Wet diapers: If your baby has been left in a wet or dirty diaper for too long, urine or stool can irritate their skin.
  • Tight diapers: Diapers that are too tight or rub against the skin can cause chafing and skin sensitivity.
  • Allergic reactions: Soaps, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, disposable diapers, baby wipes or lotions, and even some foods can cause an allergic reaction in your baby. 
  • Diet changes: Changes in your baby’s diet can change the content and frequency of their stools, which can increase the risk of developing diaper rash. 
  • Candida infection: Candida is a fungus that grows in warm, moist places and can cause a rash or yeast infection, usually bright red with smaller red spots around the edges.
  • Antibiotics: Yeast infections can occur if your baby is taking antibiotics or if the mother is on antibiotics while breastfeeding.

What are signs and symptoms of a diaper rash?

The most common symptom of a diaper rash is red, tender-looking skin in the diaper area (buttocks, thighs, and genitals). Babies with a diaper rash often cry when the area is touched or cleaned.

In severe cases, the rash can cause pimples, blisters, or other sores on your baby’s diaper area. If the rash gets infected, the skin may become bright red or swollen. Small red patches or spots may spread beyond the main part of the rash, even outside the diaper area.

How to treat diaper rash at home

The best way to treat or prevent diaper rash is to follow these tips: 

  • Change diapers often. Frequent diaper changes limit stool and urine exposure to the area and are the best way to prevent rashes. Remove wet or dirty diapers promptly.
  • Rinse your baby’s bottom in warm water. Clean and rinse your baby’s bottom gently during each diaper change.
  • Make sure your baby’s bottom is dry. Let your baby’s bottom air dry or pat it dry completely.
  • Apply cream or ointment. Apply a thick layer of diaper rash cream to your baby’s clean, dry bottom before putting on a clean diaper. Use antifungal cream for a fungal infection. 
  • Use the right diapers. Since your baby may have an allergic reaction to fragrances or other components found in disposable diapers, it may be best to switch to another brand of disposable diapers or use cloth diapers.
  • Ask your pediatrician. Talk to your baby’s doctor if your baby’s rash doesn’t clear up within a few days. If your little one has a bacterial infection, your doctor may recommend topical or oral antibiotics.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/10/2022