Diaper Rash & Top Diaper Creams
No matter how well cared for your baby is, you will probably need a diaper cream from time to time! Diaper rash is, to some extent, just an unfortunate fact of life when caring for a baby in diapers. Rashes can be caused by friction/chafing, irritation (e.g. pee/poop or chemical sensitivity), infection (bacterial or yeast), or allergic reaction. Lucky babies may need a diaper cream only rarely, while other babies (particularly those with sensitive skin) may benefit from preventative measures at every diaper change.
Note: We developed this list by summarizing TotScoop parent favorites and adding a few hand-picked editor favorites and new releases. Our picks are 100% unbiased — we never accept compensation in exchange for coverage. That said, this page may contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small commission on any purchases that you make (at no cost to you); see our full disclosure.
Tips for treating and avoiding diaper rash
- Change diapers frequently: Or for poop, immediately!
- Dry it out: Make sure baby's butt is completely dry before you put a new diaper on. Some parents pat gently with a dry cloth or tissue. You can also try fanning or even using a hairdryer on low for a few seconds.
- Air it out: Give baby's butt some air time. Try letting her play bottomless on a waterproof mat. If you need to have a diaper on, try the most breathable diaper and clothing possible to allow for some air flow.
- Switch out potential irritants: Consider trying a different brand of diapers, wipes, or laundry detergent if you suspect your baby may have a sensitivity. Seek out disposable diapers free of dyes, perfumes, lotions, etc. (see are top picks for premium diapers here). Look for wipes that are fragrance-free (e.g. WaterWipes), or just use dry wipes with water. If you use cloth diapers, examine your wash routine and consider trying another detergent.
- Apply diaper cream: To treat an existing rash, apply a diaper rash cream or ointment at each change. (You might also need to use the same on an everyday basis to prevent rashes on some kiddos with sensitive skin.) These serve not only to soothe the rash, but also to form a barrier against wetness and potential irritants. The most proven, time-tested barrier creams are those containing petrolatum or zinc oxide. Some natural-ingredient creams incorporate beeswax as a natural barrier creator, but in our testing it was not as long-lasting.
- The "Y" word: For persistent rashes, yeast may be involved. It typically presents as a red, raised, patchy rash with clearly delineated borders, usually with satellite spots. Visit your pediatrician to get it diagnosed. Nystatin (requires a prescription) and Clotrimazole (OTC) are typically recommended (can be used as a first layer, with a barrier cream on top).
What to look for in a diaper cream
- Moisturizing/soothing: To soothe and heal an existing rash, look for moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, coconut oil, jojoba oil, calendula, lanolin, etc.
- Effective wetness barrier: To prevent rashes and/or keep rashes from getting worse, look for a barrier cream that will protect baby's bottom from the hostile environment inside the diaper — especially important when baby will be wearing the diaper for a longer period of time (e.g. overnight). Petroleum jelly and zinc oxide are tried-and-true barrier creators. For more serious rashes, look for higher percentages of zinc oxide for the strongest barrier ("maximum strength" formulations typically contain 40% zinc oxide). If you prefer natural ingredients, you can look for beeswax to provide a natural (if weaker) barrier.
- No fragrance/additives: For babies with sensitive skin, consider avoiding artificial fragrances and other unnecessary additives.
- Cloth-safe: If you're using cloth diapers, you'll need a "cloth-safe" diaper cream (you can also use regular creams with liners, but the liners are not 100% effective so in our opinion you're better off with a cloth-safe cream). Anything containing petroleum or zinc oxide is almost certainly not cloth-safe.
Top diaper creams
Here's our roundup of some of the most popular diaper creams by category. (Note: Cloth-safe creams are noted throughout. Products with primarily natural ingredients are marked as "Natural picks," while mainstream products [which typically incorporate a petroleum base] are marked as "Conventional picks.")
The diaper creams that we tested in our in-home testing. (Note: Motherlove Green Salve is shown in the photos, but we actually tested Motherlove Organic Diaper Rash and Thrush Relief on the bum.)
Appearance, consistency, and hand feel in the diaper creams we tested ranged from transluscent & ointment-y (more typical of the natural creams) to thicker and more opaque (typical of the creams containing zinc oxide, particularly at higher percentages).
For rash prevention & mild rashes
If your babe has a mild rash or you're just trying to keep his bum clear, a lightweight diaper cream or ointment should be sufficient. Our favorites are all-natural creams that one can apply frequently and without hesitation to sensitive baby skin. Some good choices include pure coconut oil and ointments from Motherlove and Earth Mama Angel Baby; however, these don't provide much if any of a lasting wetness barrier. Honest Healing Balm and Era Organics have slightly stickier, waxier consistencies, which help them to provide longer-lasting barriers. GroVia Magic Stick comes in a convenient stick form factor, so is our a great choice for on-the-go. When you need a serious barrier against wetness, your best bet is something containing either zinc oxide (such as Badger or Honest Diaper Cream) or petrolatum (such as Aquaphor or A+D).
Crunchier mamas swear by pure coconut oil for many uses, including diaper duty. It's cheap (the one pictured costs $11 for 16 oz.) and 100% natural, has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and will leave your baby smelling like a tropical vacation! It assumes on a solid state below 76 degrees F, but will melt easily for application with the warmth of your hand; above 76 degrees F it takes on liquid form, so it can be a bit messy in warmer weather! A great natural choice for rash prevention/skin conditioning or light rashes, though it probably won't be heavy duty enough once a real rash has developed. Cloth-safe.
We love this all-natural (96% certified organic ingredients) herbal salve from Motherlove ($11 for 1 oz.). It is formulated with an olive oil and beeswax base; the other ingredients are oregon grape root (antibacterial), myrrh gum (antibacterial and antifungal), yarrow herb (promotes healing), calendula flower (promotes healing). Motherlove says that it is designed "soothe persistent inflamed diaper rash," particularly because persistent rashes are often due to yeast. Based on our testing it does not create a lasting barrier, but is soothing and does seem to have a noticeable impact on yeast. Can also be used on nursing mother's nipples. EWG rating: 1. Cloth-safe.
This bestselling all-natural balm from Earth Mama Angel Baby ($9 for 1 oz.) is very similar to Motherlove's in consistency, but has a stronger scent. It utilizes an olive oil base, and also contains shea butter, candelilla wax, jojoba oil, tea tree, lavender oil, calendula, St. John's wort, chickweed, plantain, and myrrh. Based on our testing using it at home, it does not create a lasting barrier, but is soothing to the skin. EWG rating: 1. Cloth-safe.
This all-natural healing balm ($13 for 3 oz.) from ultra-popular The Honest Co. is intended for boo boos all over, but can also be used as a lightweight diaper cream. During our home testing we found it to have a lasting moisturizing effect and be very soothing for both rashes and eczema. It does not provide a lasting barrier, however, and the formulation can sometimes separate, resulting in a somewhat granular texture. Nonetheless, this is one of our favorite natural diaper creams. Its base consists of sunflower seed oil, beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil, and shea butter. It is free of petroleum, mineral oil, parabens, fragrances, and dyes. It seems expensive per ounce, but a little goes a long way, making it pretty good value. This product is currently (as of August 2016) stocked at Costco. EWG rating: 1. Cloth-safe.
We knew we had to try this diaper cream from Era Organics ($15 for 2 oz.) when we discovered it as the highest-rated organic diaper cream on Amazon. It is USDA Certified Organic; ingredients include sunflower oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, coconut oil, olive oil, chamomile, and calendula. The beeswax provides as a natural wetness barrier. It contains no mineral oil, petrolatum, parabens, or dyes. In our testing, it was a little waxy to apply (reminiscent of honey), and provided an impressively long-lasting barrier for an all-natural cream. It seems expensive per ounce, but a little bit goes a long way, resulting in it actually being pretty good value. It hasn't been rated by EWG, but we don't see anything objectionable in the ingredient list. The manufacturer does not make any claims about the product being cloth-safe, but it washed out of our cloth diapers fine during our testing.
You really can't beat the convenience of this diaper stick from GroVia ($14 for 2 oz.) — it glides on smoothly with zero mess, making it a great choice either for home or on-the-go. It's made with all-natural organic ingredients — including grapeseed oil and beeswax — and contains no petroleum products. In our testing it did not seem to provide a lasting wetness barrier, but we continue to reach for it for light rashes and rash prevention when we don't want to get our hands all goopy. Note that it does have a natural lavender scent, in case you're scent sensitive. EWG rating: 1. Cloth-safe.
Badger ($11 for 2.9 oz.) is great choice if you are looking for a lightweight diaper cream with zinc oxide that is as natural as possible. It is 100% Certified Natural & 94% Certified Organic, and contains only five ingredients: non-nano, uncoated zinc oxide (10%); sunflower oil; beeswax; calendula; and vitamin E. It goes on very smoothly (though very yellow), however in our home testing the wetness barrier did not last long, presumably because of the relatively low zinc oxide percentage. The formulation does have a tendency to separate, so you need to knead the tube before dispensing. EWG rating: 1. Not cloth-safe, due to the zinc oxide.
This all-natural diaper cream from Honest ($10 for 2 oz.) a great cream that is particularly easy to apply for a zinc oxide-based cream. It goes on very smoothly, and was designed to be easy to remove as well. It contains 14% zinc oxide and a base containing sunflower seed oil, castor seed oil, olive oil, beeswax, and coconut oil. It contains no petrolatum, mineral oil, parabens, fragrances, dyes, or dimethicone. In our testing, we liked the smooth, easy application, and found it to provide a decent if not super long-lasting wetness barrier. However, we feel it's a bit overpriced as compared to similarly performing competitors. EWG rating: 1. Not cloth-safe, due to the zinc oxide.
This very reasonably priced ointment from Aquaphor ($13 for 14 oz.), recommended by doctors for all kinds of skin irritations, is very effective on mild diaper rashes. The main active ingredient is petrolatum (41%); other ingredients include mineral oil and lanolin alcohol. It is fragrance free. The formulation of the "Baby" product is identical to the normal (adult) product, so feel free to buy whichever is cheaper! EWG rating: 2. Not cloth-safe.
A+D ($10 for 16 oz.) is a traditional preventative diaper rash ointment that many parents still swear by. The makers of A+D market it as a product appropriate for use at every diaper change to help prevent diaper rash. It has a vaseline-like consistency and utilizes active ingredients petrolatum (53.4%) and lanolin (15.5%) to create effective wetness barrier. It's also very reasonably priced. Be aware that it contains fragrance and has a strong medicinal smell. Not rated by EWG. Not cloth-safe.
For moderate-to-severe rashes
For more difficult rashes, look for higher percentages of zinc oxide (up to 40%), and/or other ingredients (such as petrolatum or lanolin) in combination. Our top all-natural pick is Burt's Bees, which contains 40% zinc oxide. If you need something stronger, Triple Paste (our all-around MVP), Calmoseptine, Desitin, and Boudreaux's all contain multiple active ingredients.
Burt's Bees makes our favorite all-natural diaper rash cream ($9 for 3 oz.) for moderate to severe rashes. First of all, it's the only all-natural cream we're aware of that contains "maximum strength" (i.e. 40%) zinc oxide. It is a thicker cream, but glides on reasonably easily, and provides a very lasting barrier (still visible on baby's butt in the morning after overnight wear). In addition to zinc oxide, the base also contains sweet almond oil, beeswax, and lanolin. It contains no parabens, petrolatum, or synthetic fragrance. EWG rating: 1. Not cloth-safe.
Many parents swear by this "premium choice to help treat and prevent diaper rash" ($30 for 16 oz.), especially for persistent rashes that just won't quit. Triple Paste is an over-the-counter version of a compounded formula that used to be available only by prescription. It contains a mixture of ingredients including zinc oxide, white petrolatum, corn starch, and anhydrous lanolin, and is fragrance free. The consistency is very stick and thicky, so and it's also very expensive, so it wouldn't be our first choice for everyday, however it's very effective on serious rashes. (Note, however, that you shouldn't use Triple Paste if you suspect yeast, as the corn starch will feed the yeast.) EWG rating: 2. Not cloth-safe.
Poll parents on their favorite diaper rash creams, and Calmoseptine ($7 for 4 oz.) often comes up. This pink multipurpose moisture barrier ointment helps to protect and heal skin irritations, and also provides temporary relief of discomfort and itching. It contains calamine, zinc oxide, menthol and lanolin. Note that Calmoseptine has a fairly strong medicinal smell. EWG rating: 3. Not cloth-safe.
Desitin, the market leader in diaper creams, makes our list because it's super affordable ($12 for 16 oz.) and obviously works great for many parents. Its conventional formulations have a base consisting of petrolatum and zinc oxide, and also include parabens and (for the Maximum Strength product) fragrance. However if those ingredients don't concern you, Desitin is an easy product to find — it is readily available practically everywhere. The Rapid Relief, which contains 13% zinc oxide and dimethicone and contains no fragrance, was designed to glide on and be wiped off easily; meanwhile, the Maximum Strength, which contains 40% zinc oxide (and no dimethicone), is a richer, thicker cream designed to create a more substantial wetness barrier. EWG rating: "Rapid Relief" 5, "Maximum Strength" 4. Not cloth-safe.
Boudreaux's ($7 for 4 oz.) is a favorite parent brand for quick and effective diaper rash relief. They offer three different formulations: Original (16% zinc oxide), Maximum Strength (40% zinc oxide), and All-Natural (16% zinc oxide). The Original and Maximum Strength contain a base consisting of petrolatum, mineral oil, castor oil, and/or paraffin, while the All-Natural product contains beeswax, Carnauba wax, and castor oil. All three have a strong, distinctive scent (presumably the Peruvian Balsam?) which may be too much for more scent-sensitive parents. EWG rating: "Original" 1, "Maximum Strength" 2, "All-Natural" 1. Not cloth-safe.
For yeast rashes
If the above creams aren't doing the job, your baby's rash may be linked to a yeast/fungal infection. These often present as a red, raised, patchy rash with clearly delineated borders, with satellite lesions sprinkled around the diaper area or even outside the diaper area (e.g. on thighs or stomach). A yeast rash may appear alone, or in combination with, a normal diaper rash. See your doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Your pediatrician is also the best person to consult for a personalized treatment plan. She may recommend using a topical anti-yeast or antifungal cream, such as clotrimazole (brand name Lotrimin, OTC) or nystatin (prescription), potentially in conjunction with a corticosteroid cream (such as hydrocortisone 1%) to reduce inflammation. (You can also apply a barrier cream over the medication, to keep the rash from getting worse. Just don't use anything containing corn starch, such as Triple Paste, as it will feed the yeast.) In addition, you can also add a probiotic such as L. acidophilus or L. reuteri to your child's diet to help combat yeast from inside the body.
Clotrimazole is an antifungal medication often used to treat fungal infections including athlete's foot, jock itch, and yeast diaper rash. If your doctor suggests it for your baby, it's much cheaper to buy online as compared to your local drugstore.
For severe rashes, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid cream such as this hydrocortisone 1% cream from Aveeno to reduce inflammation and relieve itching. Use sparingly, particularly in the delicate diaper area, as extended use can result in thinning of skin!
BioGaia drops ($29 for 50 servings) contain Lactobacillus reuteri, which the manufacturer explains is "one of the most well researched probiotic species, especially in the very young." It is often recommended by pediatricians for colic in very young infants.
Culturelle ($18 for 30 packets) contains Lactobacillus GG, which according to them is the "the #1 most clinically studied probiotic in kids." It recommends this product for kids ages 1+.
Diaper cream applicators
This applicator from BabyBum ($8) may at first seem unnecessary (why not just use your hands, right?!), but if you're applying sticky creams at every diaper change, it can be a lifesaver. Its flexible head is nimble enough to traverse tiny baby butts, and the other end sports a handy suction cup for easy storage. Just wipe it clean with a baby wipe when you're done (and sanitize as necessary).