As a cosmetic chemist and a mom, Facebook mom groups are a disturbing corner of the internet. One of my biggest peeves is questions about diaper rash… And questions like what-to-do-with a bad case of diaper rash come up weekly. The large number of pseudoscientific, anecdotal, baseless and often harmful treatment suggestions often force me to speak up.

Admittedly, other than some very rare occasions, what I say is well received and I owe it all to the efforts I put in providing scientific, evidence based advice.

During one of the last discussions I came up with a chart of some of the most recommended brands from all moms (omitting MLM and hand-made ones) and decided to do a quick analysis of all of them. Here’s what I’ve found, explained in a non-technical manner. 

 

Recap chart first- I’ve analyzed the general formula, the top ingredients and above all, the percentage of Zinc. Zinc oxide is main ingredient that helps heal diaper rash by forming a barrier between the rash and the diaper. Theoretically, the higher the percentage of the Zinc oxide, the more potent the product is (although please take this with a grain of salt. EVERYTHING is formula dependent.)

 

Product % Zinc Oxide
Penaten 18%
Burt Bees Diaper Rash Cream 40%
Baby Butz 30%
Sudocrem 15.25%
Desitin 40%
Zincofax Fragrance Free 15%

 

What is diaper rash?

Diaper rash is a red, inflamed and irritated patch of skin on infant or baby’s bottom. Because baby’s skin tends to be more sensitive, a little wet or soiled diaper can easily irritate it and cause diaper rash. Although there’s evidence that other events like antibiotics, teething, food sensitivities and allergies might also contribute it.

(Something interesting I gathered when reading other mom’s comments on the Facebook groups was that in many cases, diaper rash is accompanied with a yeast infection but I have yet to read enough on this topic.)

PLEASE NOTE- This is not a medical blog and I don’t mean to give medical advice. In all and every case, please contact your physicians or health care provider.

 

Treatments for diaper rash

Mom’s in the group suggested a variety of treatments from letting the rash air, to using corn starch and Vaseline. But the only treatment everyone unanimously agreed on was for diaper rash cream. Here’s the 7 top suggestions.

 

Penaten

Ingredient List (copied from penaten.ca)- MEDICINAL INGREDIENT MÉDICINAL (%W/W – P/P) : Zinc Oxide (18%) / oxyde de zinc (18 %). NON-MEDICINAL INGREDIENTS NON MÉDICINAUX : Alcohol, Allantoin, Aqua, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, CI 40800, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Bark/Leaf/Twig Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Lanolin, Panthenol, Paraffinum Liquidum, Parfum, Petrolatum, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, Talc, Tocopherol.

Penaten was suggested to us by our pediatrician for our first baby as well. It’s one of the ones I’ve personally used it for a long time. It’s a thick paste that stays put. Zinc is at 18% which is a moderate level. This level makes this a great preventative as well as treatment formula. 

Other ingredients worth mentioning are:

  • Allantoin-  Great for soothing and moisturizing –  I firmly believe this ingredient is why Penaten works so well.  
  • Panthenol- Also a great moisturizer- I don’t think it’s used at a high enough level as per the position in the list. 
  • Lanolin- You know the sticky, nipple cream? That. 
  • Petrolatum- Vaseline, literally. 
  • Mineral Oil- Otherwise known as baby oil (or the laxative?)
  • Witch hazel extract- provides skin toning and healing benefits 

 Sudocrem

 

Water is the top ingredient. Has lavender oil

More emollient, less pasty than Penaten

 

 

Burt Bees Diaper Rash Cream

With a whooping 40% this is definitely a full strength formula.

 

Baby Butz

Ingredient list (copied from Amazon.ca)- Zinc Oxide, Lanolin, Corn Starch, Petrolatum

Another favorite of mine due to the short and sweet ingredient list and really nice formula with a high percentage of zinc oxide.

 

Desitin

Ingredient list (copied from Amazon.ca)

Medicinal Ingredients: Zinc oxide 40% (w/w), cod liver oil 13.56% (w/w). Non-Medicinal Ingredients: Butylated hydroxyanisol, lanolin, methylparaben, parfum, petrolatum, water, talc.

 

Zincofax

Ingredient list

69% white petrolatum, 15% zinc oxide. Non-medicinal Ingredients (alphabetically): lanolin, mineral oil.

 

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”Albert Schweitzer