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What are the Pros and Cons of Using Zinc Oxide for Diaper Rash?

Amy Hunter
Amy Hunter

Benefits to using zinc oxide for diaper rash include the fact that it is readily available, generally well tolerated, affordable, and, for uncomplicated cases of diaper rash, effective. However, there are drawbacks to using zinc oxide for diaper rash. Zinc oxide doesn't work in all cases of diaper rash, and a delay in treating a complicated case of diaper rash while you use zinc oxide can allow the rash to worsen. Zinc oxide can also make a young child ill if ingested.

Zinc oxide is a common first line of defense to not only treat, but prevent diaper rash and other mild skin irritations. It can be applied as often as required, and it provides a barrier between delicate skin and urine and feces that cause irritation. Zinc oxide is particularly effective when combined with other measures to treat and prevent diaper rash. Change diapers frequently to minimize the amount of time that the baby's skin is exposed to urine and feces. Allow the baby to spend time each day without a diaper so that skin is exposed to air.

A tube of zinc oxide ointment.
A tube of zinc oxide ointment.

Babies who are susceptible to diaper rash may find relief with the use of super-absorbent diapers. These diapers use a special gel material in the inside of the diaper to pull moisture away from the baby's skin quickly. Keeping skin dry is the best defense against diaper rash.

It is important to keep zinc oxide out of reach of babies and toddlers. If ingested, contact the poison control center immediately. Symptoms of zinc oxide ingestion include nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, cough, fever, and irritation around the mouth.

Some diaper rashes won't respond to zinc oxide creams, though most common ones will when treated early.
Some diaper rashes won't respond to zinc oxide creams, though most common ones will when treated early.

Using zinc oxide for diaper rash is not always effective. Babies can develop a yeast diaper rash, which will not respond to treatment with traditional diaper rash remedies. These rashes are typically diagnosed by a healthcare provider and require an anti-fungal cream for treatment. Yeast diaper rashes are more painful than common, uncomplicated diaper rash.

Zinc oxide for diaper rash treatment should show results within one day. After that time, if the skin does not show signs of improvement, the rash bleeds or becomes crusty, or if the child develops a fever, contact a healthcare professional. A healthcare professional can examine the diaper rash, determine if it is infected, and provide an effective, prescription strength remedy.

Discussion Comments


@ysmina-- How severe is the rash? Zinc oxide ointment for diaper rash is suitable for mild rashes. If the rash is severe, you will probably need a stronger treatment. Even hydrocortisone cream might be necessary sometimes but ask your doctor first.

If you can find one, purchase a zinc oxide ointment with lanolin. Lanolin is a natural moisturizer. This combination seems to work better than just zinc oxide ointment.


@ysmina-- You can try the zinc oxide cream first. If the rash doesn't improve with the cream in several days, then it might be a yeast infection. The doctor needs to give you a different cream for that.

This is what I've always done with my kids. Zinc oxide diaper rash cream almost always works. There was only one instance where it didn't work and that was because the rash was a yeast rash. The pediatrician gave us a cream for it and it cleared up quickly.

So don't panic. Try the zinc oxide and see how it goes. Also make sure to change her diapers often and dry her up properly after wiping.


My daughter has a diaper rash but I'm not sure what type it is (whether it's due to dampness or yeast). Should I use a nappy rash ream with zinc oxide or not?

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    • A tube of zinc oxide ointment.
      By: Tinga
      A tube of zinc oxide ointment.
    • Some diaper rashes won't respond to zinc oxide creams, though most common ones will when treated early.
      By: Tomasz Trojanowski
      Some diaper rashes won't respond to zinc oxide creams, though most common ones will when treated early.