Preventing diaper rash with diaper cream

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
March 4, 2023
Preventing Diaper Rash With Diaper Cream

There’s nothing softer than a baby’s skin, but the softness also leaves your little one prone to breakouts and irritation.

50 to 60% of babies will develop a rash at some point during their diaper-wearing years.

Irritation, like diaper rash, happens to almost every baby, but it doesn’t need to be an everyday thing: you should be taking steps to protect your baby’s bottom every time you change their diaper.

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Diaper cream is as important as the diaper itself. Because most babies wear diapers almost all day, their sensitive skin is exposed to moisture and the bacteria that love it. Left to its own devices, the bacteria can cause rashes and even infections, making your poor baby miserable.

Choosing the right baby cream is only half the battle – you also need to apply it correctly during every change.

Whether you’re a new parent or you’ve changed a thousand and one diapers, it’s always good to brush up on diaper rash prevention.

Keep reading to learn how to keep your baby’s bottom healthy.

Until you have a baby, you don’t realize just how terrible diaper rash can be. These rashes aren’t an inconvenience. They can really impact your baby's early development.


  • Cry more often
  • Become fussy, agitated or restless
  • Change their eating habits
  • Avoid urinating or defecating to avoid the pain that comes with it

Most common causes of diaper rash

Unfortunately, diaper rashes are inherent with wearing diapers.

Diapers create a closed environment around one of the most sensitive parts of your baby’s body. The friction caused by the diaper causes irritation on its own. But then, your baby also sits in urine, feces, and the bacteria that love to grow in these conditions and their skin becomes even more sensitive to irritation.

Still, you’re changing their diapers regularly and applying cream when and where you can. Why is your baby still breaking out?

Here are a few reasons:

1. They have more bowel movements.

Feces are more irritating to your baby’s skin than urine. If your baby is having more bowel movements than normal or is experiencing diarrhea, it may increase the likelihood of diaper rash.

2. Their diapers or clothes are too tight.

Chafing from a tight diaper or clothes may irritate their skin and make them more prone to rashes. Choose a well-fitted diaper and avoid strapping them to give your baby room to kick and move without fighting against their diaper.

2. They have a yeast infection.

Yeast (fungal) infections are common in babies because yeast loves dark, warm, moist places, which is exactly the environment a diaper provides.

You’ll see a yeast infection in the folds or crease of your baby’s skin. It often appears as red dots.

Treating a fungal infection requires an anti-fungal baby cream. Other medications might kill bacteria but struggle to kill the fungus.

4. Their diet changes.

A change in diet, particularly the introduction of solids, changes the texture, contents, and frequency of your baby’s poop, which irritates their skin.

If your babe is still breastfeeding, they may even be sensitive to something their mother eats and get diaper rash through the change in nutrients.

5. They have sensitive skin.

Babies with eczema or atopic dermatitis often experience a greater rate. If your baby has sensitive skin, you’ll want to provide them with extra protection.

6. They’re on antibiotics.

Antibiotics switch up the bacteria in your baby’s body, and can sometimes to lead to diaper rash.

How to spot a rash

Four symptoms indicate that a rash is either on its way or is in progress.

Redness is one of the most common symptoms. Your baby’s skin will change in color from its normal beige and pink to a bright, irritated, red color. Redness is often accompanied by extra sensitivity; diaper changes will become painful for both you – but especially your baby because they may begin to hurt.

One a rash reaches the flaking and chafing phase, you can be sure it’s in full swing. If you haven’t started using diaper rash treatment, now is the time.

How does diaper cream work?

One of the most common misconceptions about diaper changes is that you only need extra products when your baby already has a rash.

Diaper cream has two functions: It prevents and treats diaper rash.

Creams are used to prevent rashes and irritation by forming a thin barrier between your baby’s bottom and the things that irritate them.


  • Moisture or excrement
  • Acid from food
  • Chemicals from diapers

With extra protection, sensitive skin doesn’t need to be directly exposed to these things, all of which exist inside your baby’s diaper.

Ideally, your cream will prevent most rashes, but if a rash still occurs, it’s also used to treat diaper rashes.

In addition to forming a barrier, many baby creams provide moisture to help their skin heal. If your baby has a yeast-based rash, you can also find moisturizing creams that kill the yeast and help them heal. Zinc oxide cream includes active ingredients to treat irritation when it does occur.

Do I need to apply diaper cream at every diaper change?

The frequency of application is a personal preference for both you and baby.

There’s nothing wrong with using diaper cream every time you change your baby’s diaper, particularly if they are prone to rashes or have extra sensitive skin.

It’s also possible to use it as needed. Applying it at the first sign of irritation is a good way to prevent a mild rash from spreading and making your child uncomfortable.

You should always use some kind of cream or ointment when:


  • Your baby has a diaper rash
  • Your baby shows signs of irritation
  • Your baby has diarrhea
  • Your baby has sensitive skin
  • Your baby is taking antibiotics
  • Your baby is excreting meconium

Looking for a happy medium? Consider applying it both at the first sign of irritation and during periods where your baby wears their diaper for a long time.

If your baby is a good sleeper, they’ll spend more time in their diaper at night, which increases their chance of developing a rash. So, applying cream before bed.

Avoid allergens

Take care to avoid diaper creams with potential allergens. Common ingredients in baby creams include coconut oil, mineral oil, sunflower oil, beeswax and lanolin.

If your baby is sensitive or allergic to one or more of these ingredients, be sure the product is free from these allergens.

How to save money on diaper cream

No one needs to be told that diapers and diaper cream are expensive: we’re unfortunately very aware.

The expense of diaper cream – and the amount of cream needed – put many parents off using it every day. And there’s no need to use it for every change. Wouldn’t you like to balance protecting your bank account while also protecting your baby’s skin?

Both are possible.

Choose the right cream

The right cream will always save you money – even if the purchase price is high.

Buying cream that’s effective at preventing and treating diaper rash means you don’t need to buy tubs of it to keep your baby comfortable.

Don’t settle for a mediocre product. If it isn’t providing enough protection, try a new cream and continue experiment until you find one that works.

Apply the right amount

Apply a dime-sized amount of cream to your baby’s bum – and no more.

Unless there’s a major infection, more than a small amount of cream is superfluous – you’re using more cream for almost no reason.

Switch out cream with petroleum jelly

The preventative measure in diaper cream is in the moisture barrier it provides between your baby’s bottom and their diaper. If they haven’t broken out, then you don’t necessarily need a medicated cream.

Use petroleum jelly in place of a daily cream for the protective layer of moisture and then use the effective rash cream when a rash is imminent.

You’ll save money and keep their skin soft and smooth.

Enjoy diaper-free time

Want to save money on diapers AND diaper cream? Let your babe roll around without a diaper whenever you get the chance.

Choose the right diaper

If your baby breaks out frequently, the problem may be the diaper itself.


  • Applied loosely
  • Sized correctly
  • Free from allergens or irritants

If your baby has a perpetual diaper rash, consider shopping around for different diapers, and you might find it makes a significant difference.

Use cream to protect baby’s skin

Your baby’s soft skin smells good, but it also makes them more sensitive to irritation. Diaper cream helps protect babies’ bottoms from the pains of wearing a diaper by adding a layer of moisture and preventing chafing and exposure to irritants.

While there’s no right or wrong way to use cream preventatively, you should always consult with your doctor if your baby has a rash that won’t go away.

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