Pharmacy Corner
Diaper Rash: A Pain in the Bum! Treatment

How do I treat the diaper rash?

  1. Change your baby’s diaper frequently – at any time you notice it is wet. Check for wetness every 2-3 hours6. This helps reduce the moisture and friction that lead to diaper rash. It is better to change more than less often.
  2. If you can, give your baby some “diaper-free” time, so that their bum can dry out1–3. This can help the rash heal faster.
  3. Avoid any foods that seem to cause diarrhea in your baby3.
  4. When washing your baby’s diaper area, use a mild, unscented soap and warm water. You can use water only if there is no stool1,4. Rinse well and pat dry. If wipes are being used, choose an unscented, alcohol free wipe3,4.
  5. Use a barrier diaper cream with each diaper change for active rash1–6.

What are barrier creams?

A barrier cream helps by blocking moisture and the diaper rubbing against the skin. The safest and most common barrier creams are Petroleum (Vaseline®) and zinc oxide1–6.

Both protect the skin, but zinc oxide also helps draw away any excess moisture in the diaper area2,4.

How do I use a barrier diaper cream?

Clean your baby’s bum and make sure it is dry before applying the diaper cream. Choose a barrier diaper cream that is unscented. Apply it in a thick layer, like icing on a cake, to the entire area under the diaper2,4. It is important that you reapply the cream with each diaper change1.

Do not share any barrier preparations with other children. Do not put fingers back into a jar after touching your baby’s rash1.



If you are having trouble cleaning off the dried cream at a diaper change, try using mineral oil on a cotton ball. This is a safe and effective way of gently removing the cream or dried stool2,5,6.

Which diaper cream should I choose?

Petroleum (Vaseline®) and zinc oxide are the best options.

If you’re using zinc oxide, there are regular and extra-strength options. Pick the best concentration to either prevent or treat a diaper rash.

  • Regular zinc oxide (10-20%) can be used every day, to prevent diaper rash
  • Extra-strength zinc oxide (20-40%) can be used when your baby’s bum starts to look red and raw

REMEMBER: if you have any trouble picking out a diaper rash cream, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.

Here is a list of some of the good diaper creams options in Canada.

OptionsBrands available in Canada
For prevention of diaper rashPetroleum
  • Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly
  • Vaseline® Petroleum Jelly Baby Fresh
  • Petroleum jelly
Zinc oxide
  • Aveeno® Diaper Rash Cream
  • Penaten® Medicated Cream
  • Sudocream® Diaper Rash Cream
  • Boudreaux’s® Butt Paste
  • Zincofax® Original
For when the bum is red and rawZinc oxide
  • Desitin® Diaper Rash Ointment
  • Zincofax® Extra Strength

Should I put on a diaper cream even when there is no rash?

You don’t need to, but it won’t hurt!

Using a diaper cream every day or with every diaper change will help prevent a rash in your baby, especially if he/she often gets rashes or is at higher risk.



It is ok to use a 40% cream every day for prevention! But these creams are stickier and thicker. They can be difficult to spread on and remove from the skin.

How can I tell if treatment is working?

The diaper rash should disappear over 3 days. Look for3:

  • Smaller or no more areas of red, raw skin
  • A decrease in swelling
  • No spreading
  • No oozing or blisters
  • Return to regular sleeping patterns

Usually diaper rash can get better or worse over the first couple of days. Most cases of diaper rash last about 2-3 days1,3,5. If the rash is still there after 3 days, it is best that you see your doctor.