You’ll know if your child has nappy rash if you can see red, inflamed patches around the baby’s bottom, or in the folds of skin at the top of the legs. Sometimes the whole area can look sore, with spots and blisters in severe cases. Mild nappy rash may not bother your baby very much, but if it worsens then your little one may feel uncomfortable and be distressed and you may want to consider a cream or topical treatment to help soothe it.
Nappy rash is caused by a variety of factors, from nappies rubbing against the skin, to the bottom being in contact with a dirty nappy for too long. If your baby has recently taken antibiotics, this can be a factor too. Newborns are less likely to develop nappy rash – it’s more common in babies aged 9 to 12 months. Find out more by reading these 10 essential facts about nappy rash.
Don’t panic, because this is an extremely common problem. The NHS estimates that up to a third of babies and young toddlers may have nappy rash at any one time. You probably had it yourself when you were a baby. If your baby is experiencing a nappy rash, dermatologist Dr Rose Akinbisehin from an Essex-based NHS hospital advises, “avoid soaps, moisturisers and wipes with fragrance. Instead of using wipes you can cleanse the area with a soap-free, fragrance-free liquid cleanser, or warm water and a soft cloth. After cleansing the area, pat gently or air dry and avoid rubbing.”
Because it’s so common, there are plenty of treatments available. Some work to stop the rash from developing in the first place, whilst others will help to soothe and reduce redness. Your baby’s rash should clear up within a few days of treatment, but if you are concerned that nappy rash isn’t getting better, speak to your GP or health visitor.
If your child has dry skin elsewhere, take a look at our best baby eczema creams.
How often should I use a nappy rash cream?
NHS skin expert Dr Rose says, “This depends on the condition of your baby’s skin. Always inspect the skin after a nappy change and if you see any hint of redness apply a layer of barrier cream. I personally always apply barrier cream after a bowel movement. This is especially important if your baby has soft bowel movements or has diarrhoea.”
Barrier creams work best if used before the rash appears, and these you might want to use at every nappy change. They work by creating a physical barrier between the contents of the nappy and the skin. Treatment creams, on the other hand, will help healing when the rash has already appeared. Some creams or balms will function as both barrier and treatment. Whichever you choose, use a thin layer, as too much cream can affect the nappy’s absorbency.
How can I stop nappy rash from happening in the first place?
Prevention is better than cure, although even with your best efforts you may not be able to prevent nappy rash completely. Change nappies regularly so that poo and wee have less chance of staying in contact with your tot’s skin to irritate it.
The type of nappies you use may also contribute to nappy rash, as skin can react different to each brand or type. Dermatologist Dr Rose believes “you are less likely to get nappy rash with disposable nappies as they are more absorbent than cloth nappies.” Obviously you can mitigate this by changing cloth nappies more regularly, but if a rash does happen, Dr Rose suggests you “consider using disposable nappies while the rash is healing.”
We’ve rounded up some of the top nappy rash creams currently available, based on feedback from our home testers. Some are barrier creams, others are treatment creams, and some serve as both. Whether you prefer a traditional product that’s backed by decades of parents’ recommendations, or an organic, vegan or all-natural formula, we’ll help you find the right option.
What to look for when buying nappy rash products?
Type – You have creams, balms and ointments. Each type of nappy rash product serves a different purpose such as creating a barrier between the nappy contents and your baby’s bottom. A treatment cream is used to treat a bad rash that has already happened and an ointment usually is applied as a barrier product for everyday use. You can always interchange how you use these products depending on your personal preference.
Size – You have the option to choose from various sizes for most nappy rash creams. Some are made in only one size and others have smaller versions that are great for throwing into your changing bag and using on the go. On the flip side, you can purchase some made in larger sizes that are able to last longer and good to keep at home. You’ll find a lot of the balms and naturally made creams are created in smaller sizes with a shorter shelf life.
Texture – Nappy creams and balms vary in texture and consistency. Some creams are made with a light, thinner consistency and others are thicker. Balms tend to be thicker but can be used sparingly too. Depending on your preference, you can select a nappy rash product that has the best texture for you and your baby.
Ingredients – Dr Rose suggests you keep an eye out for “ingredients that provide an effective barrier between the skin and nappy contents such as zinc oxide, titanium oxide, white soft paraffin or petrolatum.”
Absorbency – Subject to the formula, some creams/balms are easier for the skin to absorb than others. This is important to be aware of when it comes to knowing how much to apply and how often.
Ease to use – Nappy rash products are commonly made in tubes that is squeezed to access. There’s also some that are contained in pump dispensers, tubs, glass jars, or a small tin. These various types of packaging affect the ease of use of the creams.
Cleaning – When changing your baby, you might have moments when they wriggle away while you’re folding away their dirty nappy. If they have cream on their bums, this will obviously make your changing surface and their clothes stained with the nappy rash product. Most of the creams listed here can be wiped with a damp cloth and at most may need to be washed in the washing machine following your usual care instructions.
How much do they cost?
Our list covers nappy rash creams prices ranging from £3 and as high as £38, depending on the formulation, size and ingredients used in the product.
With budget options, you’d find that they are possibly smaller in size and have very simple packaging, such as a squeeze tube. Cheaper options may also have less natural or organic ingredients
When considering more high-end nappy rash products, there are some aspects that make paying more money worthwhile. Generally, these products are made with organic or naturally sourced ingredients. Plus the packaging might be more durable and higher quality too.
Here’s our picks…
1. Weleda Nappy Change Cream, £6
-Best for dry skin
Type: Cream | Size: 75ml | Award: Gold – Nappy changing accessory, MadeForMums Awards 2021
Suitable for use from birth onwards, this gentle nappy cream soothes with white mallow, to protect sensitive or very dry skin. It’s fragrance-free and designed to be gentle, with zinc oxide to provide that all-important barrier on the nappy area. Other ingredients include soothing white mallow and pansy extract, and nourishing coconut oil.
Home tester Rachel, mum of 5 month old, said, “I used it on my baby who has sensitive skin and there was no reaction. I applied it to sore folds on tops of thighs and bottom after changing and by the next change all redness was completely gone. The cream spread far with just a little amount and there is no scent to it.”
2. Bepanthen Nappy Rash Care Ointment, £7
-Best for everyday protection
Type: Cream | Size: 100g | Award: Bronze – Nappy changing accessory, MadeForMums Awards 2021
Bepanthen was created in Switzerland in 1944, and this well known brand is still beloved by parents all over the world. This popular product scored highly with our testers for both effectiveness and ease of use, with its twist and squeeze top. Many mums in our community of home testers said it was their go-to nappy rash cream including Danielle, who said, “I love this cream because the consistency means it goes on easily during a nappy change which is extra handy if you have a wriggler. It doesn’t have a strong offensive smell, it is doesn’t stain clothes and is easily wipeable if you get it on a mat/furniture and it has always improved my child’s nappy rash quickly when used with that which is an added bonus. Also love that it is a handy size tube for on the go.”
The dual action Bepanthen ointment works to protect your little one’s skin from nappy rash by forming a breathable transparent layer which combats irritants and prevents rubbing. It also contains provitamin B5 which moisturises your baby’s skin leaving it nourished and hydrated, as well as protected.
The consistency is thick, without being sticky or gunky, and it spreads out smoothly to create a thin layer. We also like that it’s free from colours, fragrances, preservatives and antiseptics, so it can be used at every nappy change.
Latest deals from trusted retailers
3. Alteya Organics Diaper Rash Cream, from £12.85
-Best organic barrier
Type: Cream | Size: 90ml, 100ml
Alteya Organics Diaper Rash Cream works to form a protective barrier on the skin, then soothe and treat nappy rash and prevent it from recurring. This all-organic cream has won fans for its smooth and soothing consistency. The active blend of non-nano zinc oxide, rose, calendula, chamomile and gentle apricot oils helps calm your baby’s skin and promotes faster healing.
Non-nano zinc oxide is a natural mineral that protects skin and supports healing. Non-nano means that the particles are bigger and won’t be absorbed into the skin – instead they sit on top as a barrier to protect.
Our testers liked the smooth consistency and non-medicinal scent of this cream. They found that although the instructions said to apply liberally, less is more and only a small amount was enough. For example MFM tester Elaine said: “We only rubbed a small amount onto any redness during nappy changes: redness disappeared with a few applications.”
With that in mind, although this is priced higher than others in our list, the 90ml tube should last a long time.
Available from: LoveLula
4. My Expert Midwife No Harm Bum Balm, from £12.50
-Best for easy dispensing
Type: Balm | Size: 30ml, 100ml
If you want to know precisely what it is that you’re putting on your baby’s delicate skin, then this is the simplest formulation we’ve found. This rich but nourishing nappy cream provides gentle, effective relief and protection, whilst helping to prevent skin damage and soreness.
Developed by midwives for parents, it contains only 5 natural ingredients: medical grade lanolin for skin protection; calendula flower extract for soothing soreness; coconut oil for its moisturising and anti-microbial properties; sweet almond oil to nourish and sunflower seed oil for Vitamin E, to help comfort and protect.
Our MFM tester Daisy particularly liked the pump dispenser: “The pump was also great as it meant it didn’t go everywhere when I was rushing about and needed to do a quick bum change.” However our testers were concerned that as a higher price point product, the pump might prevent you from using every drop.
Latest deals from trusted retailers
5. Sudocrem Care & Protect Nappy Cream, £9.99 for 100g
-Best mini version for changing bag
Type: Cream | Size: 30g, 100g
The instantly recognisable Sudocrem brand has a multitude of uses, and a surprising following amongst adult fans who use it as a spot-clearing face mask. The original Sudocrem product, its Antiseptic Healing Cream in the familiar tub, was a nappy rash treatment cream. The newer Sudocrem Care & Protect is a barrier cream which aims to stop nappy rash from becoming an issue in the first place.
The flip top lid is easy to use, especially compared to the tub version, and the 30g tube is the perfect size for throwing in your changing bag. It can be applied at every nappy change to protect baby’s skin, and is reasonably priced for everyday use. However, have a wipe handy as you should expect white bottoms and sticky hands when using it.
Home tester Elizabeth sang its praises, “We like Sudocrem because it is gentle enough for our daughter’s sensitive, eczema-prone skin, but works so well for a whole range of issues. We’ve used it for nappy rash, insect bites, cuts and scrapes- it never fails! I really like how thick it is. I know that when applying it to nappy rash overnight, it will protect my little one’s skin until the morning. The only con I can think of is that the thickness means it can be difficult to wash off your hands, but it’s not something that bothers me too much and as I said, the thickness is actually a positive in so many ways!”
Latest deals from trusted retailers
6. Childs Farm Nappy Cream, £4
-Best for lighter consistency
Type: Cream | Size: 100ml
This popular nappy cream stands out for its easy absorption and suitability for sensitive skin, even that which is prone to eczema. This is helped by the fact it’s fragrance-free, making it gentle and kind to sore bottoms.With ingredients that include organic aloe vera, shea butter from Ghana and cocoa butter from West Africa, it’s rich in antioxidant Vitamin E and leaves skin feeling smooth and moisturised.
If you’re expecting a thick, oily cream, this isn’t it – this product has a consistency that’s more like body lotion, so is ideal for parents who prefer something with a lighter texture. It’s designed to melt into the skin quickly so it doesn’t leave a greasy, visible film . The formulation is also pH balanced to match the pH of the skin, cutting down on the risk of irritation.
As it’s not a heavy duty product, our home testers said it was great for clearing up mild rashes. Mum, Aimee, commented, “I really love the cream as it’s nice and light and not to claggy. I feel it’s good for every day use and nice and gentle on baby’s skin. It goes on smoothly and it doesn’t get everywhere like some of the creams do! I feel like you get a great amount in the tube too, ours last ages.”
7. Metanium Nappy Rash Ointment, £3 for 30g
-Best for rash treatment
Type: Cream | Size: 30g, 100g
Like Sudocrem and Bepanthen, this is a tried and trusted product which comes with the seal of approval of more than one generation of parents.
Our MFM reviewer reported her experience in glowing terms, “Putting Metanium Nappy Rash Ointment on my 22-month-old’s nappy rash is like waving a magic wand over it – if I do it at bedtime, by the morning the redness and soreness is usually completely gone.” She also added that a tube lasts for ages, since you only need a pea-sized amount.
As an added bonus, this is a vegan-friendly product, made without lanolin or beeswax. It’s a treatment rather than a barrier cream, so you may want to save it for times when nappy rash flares up. Though some users complain about the yellow colour and its potential to stain clothing and cloth nappies, the manufacturers say that any staining will come out and isn’t permanent.
Read our full MadeForMums review of Metanium Nappy Rash Ointment
Latest deals from trusted retailers
8. Conotrane Cream, £5.99
-Best value for large size
Type: Cream | Size: 100g, 500g
Moving away from the well-known popular brands we come to this simple and chemist-approved cream. It can be used for prevention and treatment of nappy rash, as well as other skin sores. Another benefit of Conotrane is that you get the larger size option if you wanted to not only treat nappy rash but use it for any further mild skin issues.
MFM tester Amanda commented, “What I really liked about it was that it was really light in texture and not thick and greasy/heavy like a lot of the alternatives I always found it really effective and it worked quickly. My youngest son used to really suffer with nappy rash especially when teething and Conotrane was the only thing that helped him. It was also very reasonably priced in comparison to others.”
9. Aveeno Baby Barrier Cream, £5.99
-Best for a thick consistency
Type: Cream | Size: 100ml
For your baby’s everyday protection, Aveeno’s Barrier cream will help prevent the onset of a nappy rash occurring. MFM tester Sammy said, “I’ve found Aveeno Baby Barrier Cream to be the most effective nappy cream for both our boys. It has lovely thickness to it and the natural oatmeal smell is really pleasant. It has definitely been the most successful cream we’ve tried to prevent nappy rash.”
The key ingredients are colloidal oatmeal (to soothe) and zinc oxide (to create a barrier) and it has no added fragrance, making it a good choice for sensitive bottoms. It’s an accessible and affordable option from a brand that many of our home testers love and trust for their families.
10. My Little Coco Everything Balm, £5.99
-Best for less mess
Type: Balm | Size: 50g
Another option that can be used not just for baby but for the whole family, My Little Coco’s Everything Balm is a “super gentle but a very effective barrier!” commented home tester Emily. The balm is a made with organic coconut oil and shea butter, coupled with a sweet coconut scent. Created to be gentle and with natural ingredients, you can guarantee your baby will be protected and comfortable in between nappy changes.
“I prefer a balm as I find less messy when applying. It melts really easily and you don’t need lots (so lasts ages!) and creates a really good barrier. It also doesn’t rub off as soon as the nappy goes on which means it’s lasting and keeping the area protected for a longer period of time which is what you need!” praised Emily.
How did we choose our 10 of the Best?
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
When testing nappy rash creams, we considered type, size, texture, ingredients, absorbency, ease of use and cleaning.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
About the author
Joanne Mallon is a mother of 2 from Belfast, now living in Brighton. She’s the author of the book Toddlers: An Instruction Manual and was previously editor of the Supernanny site. Joanne’s work has appeared in Mother & Baby, Gurgle, The Times and many other publications.