Ask the Pharmacist: 5 natural ways to treat a diaper rash

Suzy Cohen
Diaper rash can alarm parents and annoy babies. (Dreamstime)

Diaper rashes generate misery and sleepless nights for all involved! When my children were babies, I would prioritize this condition so that we could all sleep in peace. I would mix different things like essential oils or clay into the commercial creams, working tirelessly to find the perfect, soothing balm for my children.

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A rash can be caused by a pathogen like yeast/fungus or bacterial organisms. Sometimes the rash can result from sensitivities to fragrances, alcohol and artificial chemicals found in diapers or wet wipes.  In fact, some popular diaper rash balms happen to contain petrolatum, but unfortunately, is could be contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Baby powder is no longer recommended due to the lung-related health issues that talcum powder is now associated with. What’s a parent to do?! 

Today I will share five natural ways to treat a rash:

1. Use as few chemicals as possible

There are hundreds of potentially harmful chemicals in some baby products, even those advertised as “gentle.” As for laundry detergents, use unscented versions. You might also look for preservative or chlorine-free disposable diapers. Some parents opt to protect the environment and their baby all at once by using cloth (washable) diapers. As for cleaning up, there are unscented, alcohol-free baby wipes too! 

2. Make homemade cream

Here’s a DIY cream you can try. Mix together two tablespoons shea butter, one tablespoon coconut oil, two tablespoons zinc oxide, 2 teaspoons bentonite clay and 3 drops each of lavender, frankincense and Roman chamomile essential oil. Combine this mixture well and apply to baby’s diaper rash twice daily.

3. Try Epsom salts

Also known as magnesium sulfate, there are many anecdotal reports of this soothing a rash within minutes. Just pour about one cup of Epsom salt into a tub of lukewarm water and let your child soak for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. This is not a daily thing, just do it once, or twice during the week because the magnesium is absorbed into your baby’s body transdermally.

4. Apply breast milk

If you’re nursing your baby, then this tip could be a fast, easy way to soothe a rash. Express some milk and apply directly to the diaper rash. It’s strange, I know! Breast milk is high in vitamin D, and other healing compounds, and according to one study, it performed as well as one-percent hydrocortisone cream.

5. Baking soda soothes 

Combine one tablespoon baking soda with 3 tablespoons cool water and stir it in a bowl. It should make a thin paste which you can use directly on the skin. You may need to adjust the amounts to make it the consistency that you want. Apply to skin and let it settle on and ‘dry’ for about 5 minutes. Do not rub it off aggressively, but rather rinse it very gently with cool water. Baking soda change the painful acidic pH, and makes its more alkaline, thus easing the pain.

If these tips don’t help your baby, please seek the advice of your local pediatrician. 

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Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Visit