Are Your Baby Wipes Causing Diaper Rash? Here’s What You Need to Know!

June 23, 2024

Featured image for “Are Your Baby Wipes Causing Diaper Rash? Here’s What You Need to Know!”

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your baby’s sensitive skin healthy and free from irritation. Baby wipes are an essential tool for cleaning up during diaper changes, but could the very wipes you rely on actually be contributing to painful diaper rash? Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between baby wipes and diaper rash and what you can do to protect your little one’s delicate bottom.

While baby wipes alone don’t directly cause diaper rash, certain properties and ingredients in some wipes can definitely make this common skin condition more likely to develop or worsen, especially in babies who are prone to sensitive skin.[1][3]

How Baby Wipes Can Contribute to Diaper Rash

There are a few key ways that baby wipes can potentially trigger or exacerbate diaper rash:

  1. Irritating chemicals in baby wipes: Many mainstream brands of disposable baby wipes contain harsh cleansing agents, fragrances, preservatives, and other additives that can disrupt the skin’s natural protective barrier and lead to irritation and redness.[1][5] Common culprits include:
    • Alcohol, which can dry out and sting delicate skin
    • Parabens and other preservatives
    • Phthalates and other chemicals used in fragrances
    • Soap and detergent-based surfactants
  2. Diaper wipe material and rash: The physical material of the wipes themselves can sometimes be problematic. Rough, abrasive, or linty wipes may cause chafing as you rub to clean the diaper area.[4]
  3. Ineffective cleansing: Ironically, many baby wipes – especially those that are very thin or made with a high water content – simply smear and spread around urine and fecal matter rather than effectively cleaning it away.[1] Prolonged contact with these waste products is a major risk factor for diaper rash.
  4. Frequent, harsh wiping: Excessive, rough wiping at each diaper change can cause friction and micro-tears in the skin, weakening its ability to act as a barrier.[4]

So while baby wipes may not be the primary cause of a diaper rash, the cumulative effects of using certain types of wipes and wiping techniques can make this sensitive area more susceptible to developing a rash or can further inflame existing irritation.

Other Factors That Contribute to Diaper Rash

It’s important to remember that baby wipes are just one piece of the diaper rash puzzle. Other common causes and triggers include:[1][2][3][4]

  • Prolonged exposure to urine and stool in a wet/soiled diaper
  • Chafing and rubbing from the diaper itself, especially if too tight
  • Introduction of new foods, which changes stool composition and pH
  • Yeast or bacterial infection
  • Allergic reaction or sensitivity to diaper materials, lotions, laundry detergents, etc.

Babies with especially sensitive skin, eczema, and other skin conditions tend to be more prone to diaper rash in general.[11] Their skin barrier is more fragile and easily broken down by any combination of the above factors.

Preventing Diaper Rash When Using Baby Wipes

Now that we understand how baby wipes can sometimes contribute to or worsen diaper rash, let’s look at what you can do to minimize irritation and protect your baby’s bottom when using wipes.

1. Choose Gentle, Hypoallergenic Baby Wipes

When choosing baby wipes for sensitive skin, look for brands and varieties that are specifically labeled as hypoallergenicfragrance-free, and alcohol-free.[2][4][5][6] These wipes are formulated with fewer harsh chemicals and additives that can irritate the skin.

Some great options that are popular with parents of rash-prone babies include:

  • Water wipes, which contain 99.9% purified water and a drop of fruit extract
  • Pampers Aqua Pure Sensitive Water Baby Wipes
  • Huggies Natural Care Unscented & Sensitive Baby Wipes
  • Honest Company Sensitive Baby Wipes
  • Seventh Generation Free Clear Baby Wipes

You can also consider natural baby wipes made from soft, plant-based cloth materials like bamboo and infused with soothing organic ingredients like aloe, coconut oil, or calendula.[12][15]

2. Use Wipes Sparingly and Gently

Even the most sensitive wipes can cause irritation if you use too many of them too frequently or rub too harshly. Some tips:

  • Use only as many wipes as needed to clean the area effectively. One or two should suffice for wet diapers and three to four for poopy ones.
  • Pat and blot rather than rubbing vigorously. Aggressive wiping creates painful friction.[5]
  • Don’t feel like you have to use wipes for every single diaper change, especially if your baby has an active rash. For pee-only diapers, a quick swipe with a soft dry cloth may be enough.[2][6]

3. Consider Alternatives to Baby Wipes

Remember, baby wipes aren’t the only option for cleansing at changing time! In fact, many doctors recommend simply using warm water and a soft cloth, cotton balls, or gauze squares instead of commercial wipes, especially for very young infants or those with ultra-sensitive skin.[2][4][6]

You can keep a stack of soft cloths or cotton balls near your changing area and wet them with warm water as needed, or use a peri bottle to gently spray or pour water onto your baby’s bottom. Pat dry with a clean towel and you’re done!

4. Follow Other Diaper Rash Prevention Best Practices

In addition to being choosy about your wipes, you can help ward off rashes by:

  • Changing diapers frequently: Aim to change wet diapers every 2 hours and poopy ones as soon as possible to minimize prolonged exposure to irritants.[2][4]
  • Letting skin air out: Give your baby some diaper-free “bare bum” time every day to let the area dry fully and breathe.[2][5][6]
  • Applying a barrier cream: After each change, smooth on a thick layer of a zinc oxide or petroleum jelly-based diaper cream to protect the skin from moisture and irritants.[2][4][5]
  • Using the right diaper size: Diapers that are too tight can cause chafing and trap moisture against the skin. Make sure your baby’s diapers fit properly.[4]

Treating Diaper Rash Caused by Baby Wipes

If despite your best diaper rash prevention efforts, your little one still develops a sore, red bottom, it’s time for some extra TLC. Here’s how to soothe and heal irritated skin while still keeping your baby clean.

1. Switch to Water or Sensitive Wipes

First, put the regular baby wipes aside and either use warm water and a soft cloth or switch to an ultra-sensitivefragrance-free variety until the rash clears up.[2][6] Definitely avoid any wipes with alcohol or fragrance as these will sting painfully on broken skin!

2. Pat, Don’t Rub

Remember, friction is the enemy of an angry rash. Resist the urge to scrub the area. Instead, gently pat or dab it clean and then allow to air dry fully before applying cream and a fresh diaper.[5]

3. Apply a Soothing Ointment

After each change, slather on a generous amount of a thick, protective ointment to coat the skin, promote healing, and act as a barrier against further irritation. The best diaper rash creams for soothing redness and inflammation include:[2][4][5][8]

  • Zinc oxide pastes and creams (like Desitin, Balmex, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste)
  • Petroleum jelly/Vaseline
  • Aquaphor Healing Ointment
  • A&D Ointment
  • Coconut oil (organic, unrefined)

4. Let It Breathe

Diaper-free time is especially important when treating an active rash. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes of bare bum time, 3-4 times per day to expose the area to air. You can lay your baby on a towel or waterproof pad during tummy time or play.[2][5][6]

5. Try Natural Home Remedies

In addition to creams and ointments, some natural home remedies may help soothe and heal mild diaper rash. Always ask your pediatrician before trying any natural treatments. Some popular options include:

  • Breast milk: Gently pat a few drops of breast milk onto the rash and allow to air dry. Breast milk has natural antibacterial properties that can promote healing.[2][10]
  • Colloidal oatmeal baths: Add a cup of finely ground colloidal oatmeal to a warm bath and let your baby soak for 10-15 minutes. The oatmeal helps relieve itching and inflammation.[7]
  • Aloe vera: Pure aloe vera gel (not cream) can be soothing to irritated skin. Look for a product that is 100% aloe with no added colors, fragrances, or alcohol.[2]

6. Know When to See the Doctor

While most cases of mild diaper rash clear up within a few days with home treatment, sometimes you need to call in professional backup. Contact your pediatrician if:[2][4][5]

  • The rash is severe, with extensive areas of redness, bleeding, or open sores
  • It’s not improving after 2-3 days of home treatment
  • Your baby seems to be in a lot of pain, especially when urinating or having a bowel movement
  • There are signs of infection like blisters, pus, swelling, or fever
  • You suspect the rash may be due to a yeast infection or allergic reaction

Your doctor can assess the rash, recommend appropriate treatments (like prescription antifungal or steroid creams), and rule out other skin conditions.

Choosing the Best Baby Wipes for Preventing Diaper Rash

With so many brands and varieties of baby wipes on the market, how do you choose the best ones for your little one’s sensitive bottom? Here are some factors to consider:

1. Ingredients

When scanning the label, look for wipes that are free of common irritants like:

  • Alcohol
  • Fragrance/parfum
  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Propylene glycol
  • Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
  • Essential oils

Instead, opt for wipes made with 99%+ water and just a few simple, natural ingredients like aloe, vitamin E, or fruit extracts.[2][4][5][6]

2. Material

The physical fabric of the wipes is also important. You want something soft, smooth, and cloth-like that won’t leave lint behind on the skin. Many sensitive baby wipes are made from gentle plant-based materials like bamboo or regenerated cellulose.

Avoid wipes that feel rough, scratchy, or abrasive. Wipes that are very thin or flimsy tend to be less effective at cleaning.

3. Thickness and Durability

Speaking of effectiveness, a good sensitive baby wipe should be thick and strong enough to handle a messy cleanup without tearing or disintegrating. You don’t want to have to use a dozen thin wipes to get the job done!

Look for wipes that are described as “thick,” “durable,” or “textured.” Some sensitive wipes even have a quilted or honeycomb pattern for added cleaning power without extra friction.

4. Moisture Level

While you definitely want your wipes to be moist enough to clean well, super wet wipes can sometimes contribute to diaper rash by leaving the skin too damp. If your baby seems to react to very wet wipes, try squeezing out the excess liquid before using or switch to a drier variety specifically made for sensitive skin.

5. Pediatrician Recommendations

When in doubt, ask your pediatrician for their top baby wipe recommendations! They can suggest brands that are best for preventing diaper rash based on your baby’s unique skin needs and sensitivities.

Some popular pediatrician-recommended baby wipes include:[9][13]

  • WaterWipes Original Baby Wipes
  • Pampers Aqua Pure Sensitive Water Baby Wipes
  • Huggies Natural Care Unscented & Sensitive Baby Wipes
  • Honest Company Sensitive Baby Wipes
  • Seventh Generation Free Clear Baby Wipes

The Bottom Line on Baby Wipes and Diaper Rash

So, are baby wipes the enemy of a healthy, rash-free tush? Not necessarily! While it’s true that some wipes contain harsh ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin, as long as you choose the right products and use them gently and sparingly, wipes can be a convenient part of your diaper changing routine.

Here are the key takeaways for preventing and treating diaper rash related to baby wipes:

  • Choose hypoallergenicfragrance-free wipes made for sensitive skin
  • Use wipes sparingly and gently – pat, don’t rub!
  • Consider using just water and a soft cloth, especially for newborns
  • Change diapers frequently and apply a barrier cream after each change
  • Give plenty of diaper-free air time to let skin dry out and heal
  • Treat rashes with soothing creams and ointments like zinc oxide or petroleum jelly
  • Try natural remedies like breast milk, oatmeal baths, and aloe vera
  • See the doctor for severe or persistent rashes, signs of infection, or suspected allergic reactions

Remember, every baby’s skin is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Pay attention to how your little one’s skin reacts to different types of wipes and adjust accordingly. When in doubt, opt for the simplest, gentlest products and ingredients.

If your baby has eczema or another underlying skin condition that makes them prone to rashes, talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric dermatologist. They can recommend specific baby wipes and skincare practices tailored to your child’s needs. The National Eczema Association also has helpful resources for parents of babies with sensitive skin.[11]

With a little extra care and attention, you can keep your baby’s bottom clean, comfortable, and free from painful, irritating diaper rash – with or without wipes! For more tips on caring for your baby’s delicate skin, check out trusted resources like the American Academy of Pediatrics and Raising Children Network.[12]

Frequently Asked Questions

Are baby wipes really necessary for preventing diaper rash?

No, baby wipes are not strictly necessary. Many parents find that using warm water and a soft cloth or cotton balls works just as well, if not better, for cleaning the diaper area and preventing rash – especially for very young infants or babies with ultra-sensitive skin.[2][4][6]

What ingredients should I avoid in baby wipes to prevent diaper rash?

When choosing baby wipes for sensitive skin, avoid those that contain alcohol, fragrance, parabens, phthalates, phenoxyethanol, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), propylene glycol, formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, and essential oils. These ingredients can all be irritating to delicate skin.[2][4][5][6]

Can scented baby wipes cause diaper rash?

Yes, the artificial fragrances in scented baby wipes can definitely irritate sensitive skin and contribute to diaper rash. It’s best to stick with fragrance-free varieties, especially if your baby is prone to rashes or has eczema or other skin sensitivities.[1][5]

How often should I be using diaper cream or ointment if my baby gets rashes easily?

If your baby is prone to diaper rash, it’s a good idea to apply a thick layer of a zinc oxide or petroleum jelly-based barrier cream at every diaper change. This helps protect the skin from moisture and irritants. Reapply a fresh layer each time, even if you don’t see any active rash.[2][4][5]

How can I soothe diaper rash caused by wipes naturally?

Some natural home remedies that may help soothe diaper rash include applying a few drops of breast milk to the affected area, adding colloidal oatmeal to your baby’s bath, or using a small amount of pure aloe vera gel. Always check with your pediatrician before trying any natural treatments.[2][7][10]


Rate this post

Related articles


Cold Plasma System

The world's first handheld cold plasma device

Learn More

Made in USA