The Best Diaper Rash Creams

The best diaper rash cream should contain an effective moisture barrier — like petrolatum or zinc oxide — while avoiding ingredients that could irritate your baby's skin. To find our top picks, we talked to doctors, analyzed ingredients, then tested 20 popular brands to see just how water-repellent they actually are.

The 4 Best Diaper Rash Creams

Best for Daily Use
Triple Paste Medicated Ointment for Diaper Rash
Triple Paste
Petrolatum and zinc oxide in a paste that's smooth and easy to apply.
Pros
Winning combination
Thoughtful supporting ingredients
Totally odorless
Cons
Comes in a tub

Why we chose it

Winning combination

Our top all-around pick is Triple Paste Medicated Ointment. The paste contains both petrolatum and 12% zinc oxide. Why both? Dr. Lio told us that “zinc oxide is a good protectant with mild astringent properties, while adding petrolatum to the mix adds a powerful barrier that can help things heal. I actually prefer a combination of moisturizers instead of just one.” Our testers reported a similar preference: Products that rely solely on petrolatum tend to feel greasier. Our testers were surprised by how easy it was to apply and spread, noting that they only had to use a small amount to achieve full coverage.

Thoughtful supporting ingredients

In addition to petrolatum and zinc oxide, Triple Paste has lanolin to help soften the skin and beeswax as an additional moisturizer. These ingredients, plus cornstarch, contribute to Triple Paste’s soft, pillowy feel. The cream also has other great extras: oat kernel extract, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and bisabolol, which is derived from chamomile and provides a soothing effect. All these ingredients offer proven benefits. We appreciate that the formula steers clear of ingredients with untested efficacy claims.

Totally odorless

While all of our finalists are technically fragrance-free, many still had a faint scent. Both the Boudreaux Butt Paste formulas we tested carried a faint vanilla smell, which we found pleasant but definitely noticeable. Even upon close inhale, however, Triple Paste gave off no scent at all.

Points to consider

Comes in a tub

Triple Paste comes in a tub, meaning it’s noticeably easier to apply than products you have to squeeze out of tubes, but also somewhat unhygienic because you scoop your fingers directly into it. However, double dipping likely won’t be necessary. We were able to achieve a thick, frosting-like layer of coverage with very little product.

Runner-Up for Daily Use
Cetaphil Baby Diaper Cream
Cetaphil
Relies solely on zinc oxide for lighter coverage.
Pros
A gentle, widely available option
Thin and soothing
Cons
Second best to Triple Paste

Why we chose it

A gentle, widely available option

Our runner-up for daily use, Cetaphil Baby Diaper Cream, is a gentle, zinc oxide-based formula, from a familiar and widely available drugstore brand. It doesn’t contain petrolatum, so it’s not quite as thick as Triple Paste, but this soft, cream-colored product is easy to spread in a thin, even layer.

Thin and soothing

This product has no petrolatum, just zinc oxide, so it’s less sticky than many of the zinc-oxide creams we tested. Like Triple Paste, it contains skin-soothing, anti-inflammatory extras, like calendula and panthenol, and testers reported a faint, vanilla-like fragrance. Thanks to calendula, diaper rash may also disappear more quickly.

Points to consider

Second best to Triple paste

Triple Paste edged Cetaphil out thanks to its superior coverage and packaging. We had to use more Cetaphil to achieve a similarly thick barrier, and liquids didn’t bead up and roll off quite as quickly during our water test. Cetaphil’s lightweight flip-cap was also tricky to maneuver one-handed, particularly with a babe in arms.

Best Maximum Strength
Boudreaux's Maximum Strength Butt Paste
Boudreaux’s Butt Paste
A thick cream with 40% zinc oxide plus petrolatum.
Pros
Powerful formula
Easy to apply
Good feel, good smell
Cons
Unique ingredient may irritate

Why we chose it

Powerful formula

If you’re facing a particularly painful rash, we’d suggest Boudreaux's Maximum Strength Butt Paste. This heavy-duty pick contains just five ingredients, including both petrolatum and 40% zinc oxide for a one-two punch. This thick paste might be overkill for daily use but serves as an effective tool in the fight against an angry rash.

Easy to apply

Boudreaux Butt Paste Maximum Strength Formula was markedly thicker and heavier upon application than the other maximum-strength creams we tested. But it created the necessary barrier to protect already irritated skin and was easy to swipe out of its big tub and spread evenly without being too sticky.

Good feel, good smell

Boudreaux’s boasts a less oily skin-feel than other maximum strength formulas and leaves behind a pleasant vanilla scent. Responsible for this vanilla/cinnamon aroma: Peruvian balsam, derived from balsam trees and possessing antibacterial properties.

Points to consider

Unique ingredient may irritate

In rare cases, Peruvian balsam has been linked to contact dermatitis. If you’re concerned about this ingredient, we’d suggest Burt's Bees Diaper Rash Ointment or Vanicream Diaper Rash Ointment instead.

Best Natural Pick
Nature's Baby Organics Organic Diaper Ointment
Nature’s Baby Organics
A lighter cream with no petrolatum and no zinc oxide — just beeswax and plant-based oils.
Pros
Excellent plant-based cream
Moisture-wicking and thick
Usable tube
Cons
Not as effective as traditional formulas

Why we chose it

Excellent plant-based cream

Nature's Baby Organics Diaper Ointment was our favorite plant-based cream. It uses USDA-certified organic coconut oil, castor seed oil, and olive oil to repel water and soften skin, and beeswax as a natural moisture barrier. Unlike many of the natural products we tested, it didn’t melt or run upon application. Bonus: the faint, woodsy smell reminded us pleasantly of cedar.

Moisture-wicking and thick

In our hands-on tests, oil-based creams didn’t repel water as quickly or efficiently as creams with zinc and petrolatum. That said, Nature’s Baby Organics had the best moisture barrier of any of the plant-based creams we tried, with more noticeable water beading than picks like Badger Baby Balm. It’s also thicker than rivals like The Honest Company and Mother Love, which felt grainy coming out and runny once they warmed up.

Usable tube

Nature’s Baby comes in a medium-sized tube, which was another selling point. Several natural picks come in very tiny packages: chapstick-sized pots or flat, disc-like containers, that make it impossible to get a sizeable amount with your fingertips.

Points to consider

Not as effective as traditional formulas

Testers reported light but adequate coverage, although it didn’t quite match the water-repelling abilities of creams containing zinc oxide or petrolatum. It’s also a little pricier than our other top picks for performance that’s a little less impressive. That said, if you want an all-natural pick, Nature’s Baby is the best.

Guide to Diaper Rash Creams

How to find the right diaper rash cream for your baby

Use best practices to avoid a rash

Change your baby frequently and allow skin to dry completely before applying cream and putting on a new diaper. In addition, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t over-tighten diapers. In addition to being uncomfortable for your baby, this can restrict airflow, leading to a damp environment that encourages diaper rash.
  • Apply a thick layer of cream. To gauge the proper amount, one of our experts suggested pretending that you're spreading icing on a cake. Remember, it's serving as the barrier between fluids and skin.
  • See a doctor if the rash hasn’t cleared up after three days. Diaper creams won’t solve yeast infections or true allergies, so if you notice lingering irritation, check with your pediatrician.

If you use cloth diapers, avoid petroleum

Petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and other petrolatum-based products can stain cloth diapers. Beyond this, they can also build up on the material, especially fleece and other synthetic fabrics, reducing the effectiveness of the diaper.

Instead, look for a zinc-based cream like Cetaphil Baby Diaper Cream, though note that you’ll still need a thorough washing protocol and plenty of hot water. And even here, cotton diaper material — like classic prefold diapers — will fare better than the synthetic materials common to all-in-one or pocket diapers.

Watch for allergic reactions

A combination of zinc oxide and petrolatum offers the thickest, smoothest coverage, though either ingredient by itself will get the job done. No matter what you decide upon, be sure to keep an eye on your baby’s skin for allergic reactions and to consult your pediatrician if you have questions.

Diaper Rash Cream FAQ

Can I just use baby powder or cornstarch?

Dusting the diaper region with talcum powder or cornstarch used to be common, but the medical community now recommends against it. Babies can inhale the powder, leading to lung irritation and respiratory complications.

Can I just use petroleum?

Sure. If you want a petrolatum-only formula, Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment and Desitin Skin Protectant and Diaper Rash Ointment are two well-known options. They don't pack quite the healing punch of a cream with zinc oxide, but some parents prefer to avoid zinc oxide's sunscreen-like residue.

What else can I use diaper rash cream for?

The best diaper rash cream may have more uses than you think. Plant- or petrolatum-based formulas, like Nature’s Baby Organics or Aquaphor, are often great for fighting dry, cracked skin on adults, since they use the same moisturizers found in many hand creams. (You can also try this with a zinc oxide product, but be warned it won’t rub in very well.)

Beauty bloggers have gotten press for using diaper rash cream to fight acne, and studies actually seem to back this up, finding zinc oxide moderately effective against pimples. That said, heavy-duty emollients like petroleum jelly sometimes lead to more breakouts if used on your face, so you might want to spring for a proven acne treatment instead.

The Best Diaper Rash Creams: Summed Up

Triple Paste Medicated Ointment
Cetaphil Baby Diaper Cream
Boudreaux's Maximum Strength Butt Paste
Nature's Baby Organics
Best for Daily Use
Runner-Up for Daily Use
Best Maximum Strength
Best Natural Pick
Price
Zine oxide
Petroleum
Container
2 oz.
2.5 oz.
4 oz.
3 oz.

More Baby Product Reviews

You want the best products for your baby. We happen to be in the business of Bests. We talk to medical professionals, contact companies, gather data, and run tests to find exceptional goods and services; check out some of our favorites in the baby-centric reviews below.