Updated: Oct 25, 2022
We were relatively lucky in the diaper rash arena when my kiddos were in diapers. We had infrequent rashes that were rarely worse than mild.
However, the first time we surpassed the mild rash phase, I quickly noticed the regular ol’ Desitin I had on hand just wasn’t cutting it.
Without looking much into what to buy, I went to Target, looked at the diaper rash products, and picked a more expensive product, hoping I got lucky and picked the right one. That product was Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. It worked great, and we all went on our way.
There are certainly products with ingredients that are worth the extra money, and those that, although they sound great, have not been shown to be effective.
We know an ointment or paste with zinc oxide and/or petrolatum as the primary ingredients is what you are looking for (check out 4 Ways To Prevent and Treat Diaper Rash for more details!), but what about those extra ingredients? Or other things you should add into the mix?
Scientific Review - Diaper Rash Treatment Ingredients
Diaper Rash Products That Work Well
Over the counter steroid creams can help speed up healing of a diaper rash. Consider checking with your pediatrician if you are using for more than a few days.
A skin protectant that mimics the way our skin works. If you see this in the ointment/paste you buy, this is a helpful additive.
Eosin 2% Aqueous Solution
This is a product frequently used in Europe for diaper rashes that has been found to be even more effective than zinc oxide for treatment of diaper rashes. It isn’t easy to find, however. You can buy it on Amazon by searching for “Eosin 2% Aqueous Solution”. It is red in color. You can apply it at every diaper change just as you would your other products.
For mild bacterial infection you can add some bacitracin (or any triple antibiotic ointment like Neosporin).
A study in 2014 showed that this volcanic ash was 90% effective for treatment of diaper rash. You can find it on Amazon.
Diaper Rash Products That Can Complement Other Treatments
A study from 2013 showed that breast milk, although partially effective for treatment of diaper rash, was far less effective (60%) than using a barrier ointment (94%). You can consider applying some breastmilk directly to the skin underneath a barrier cream.
Coriander Essential Oil
Has been shown to have some anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. When studied for treatment of diaper rash, it was found to be partially effective, but was far less effective (54% ) than hydrocortisone 1% (90%). May be good to use in conjunction with other treatment.
Diaper Rash Products That Do Not Work Or Should Not Be Used
There were surprisingly limited studies on the effectiveness of Vitamin A on diaper rash. The study I did find showed that Vitamin A does not improve treatment of diaper rash.
Mycolog II and Lotrisone
These two products are antifungal-steroid combination creams/ointments. The steroids in Myclog II and Lotrisone, however, are too potent to be used in the enclosed diaper area of a baby and should be avoided – could cause skin atrophy, striae, adrenal suppression, and Cushing syndrome.
White soft paraffin BP
Although this repels water, it can be too occlusive and doesn’t allow for breathing for the skin. Avoid using this product in isolation, but small amounts used in combination with other ointments and pastes should be okay.
Review of Popular Diaper Rash Products
Boudreaux's Butt Paste
Contains lots of Zinc Oxide (40%), mineral oil, and petrolatum, all of which are great. Also contains parafin which can sometimes be a little too occlusive depending on how much is used. This product is what worked for my kids' rashes - I didn't use it chronically, but we never had issues with skin damage.
Desitin Max Strength
Contains lots of Zinc Oxide (40%), petrolatum, lanolin, cod liver oil (another skin protectant), but also contains other products that I do not have research on. Overall, seems like a good product
Sudocrem Antiseptic Healing Cream
A study from 2016 showed that this cream, often used in Europe, is effective at treating diaper rash. This cream has a combination of ingredients include zinc oxide and lanolin, but also contains many other ingredients not typially seen in other diaper rash products including Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate, and Benzyl Cinnamate.
Contains lots of Zinc oxide (20%) and Lanolin, both which are great. Contains other ingredients like calamine that I haven't found research on related to diaper rash. I have heard great results about this from a few people who have had severe diaper rashes.
This is a cream that has zinc oxide and lanolin, which are great. It also contains calamine (like the calmoseptine) and some other ingredients that I haven't found research on. I have also heard feedback from this product that it worked well on a moderate rash.
Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC
Born Happy, Owner and Coach
Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and Coach for parents of babies and toddlers. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies and toddlers as owner and coach for Born Happy.
Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto (age 9), and Veronica (age 7). She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.
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