Make Your Own Diaper Rash Cream

posted by Mama Hope | April 10th, 2008 in Eco-Diapering

Here’s a recipe for all natural diaper rash ointment. Just spread it on at any sign of redness. For extra protection, use nightly and on outings, whenever you may not be able to change your loved one as frequently.

I’ve had great success this time around dealing with diaper rash (i.e. preventing all but the smallest signs!). For more of what works for me in preventing flare ups, read on!

Homemade Recipe for Diaper Rash Salve

(You’ll see the salad dressing emulsifier I use pictured below, no need to buy one, however: just use a wire whisk or hand mixer.)

This recipe is essentially for a non-petroleum jelly, much easier to make than a cream and with less ingredients. To make a cream, see modifications below.

You can use any plant-based oil you’d like. For affordability, I use olive oil. To make roughly 2 ounces, which should last you 1-2 months, you’ll need:

Homemade Salve and Hand Mixer Emulsifier

2 ounces olive oil
1/2 ounce beeswax or approx. 2 tablespoons, grated
1 capsule Vitamin E , squeezed out (optional)
6 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional, as preservative)
small jar or small makeup or lotion container
double boiler
wire whisk, electric mixer, or hand emulsifier (see my pic)
rubber spatula

In a pinch you can do without the double boiler, but be sure that the pot you’re using is easy to scrape out clean. First pour the oil into the top of the double boiler over low heat. Add slightly less of the grated beeswax than called for and stir until melted.

Next is the only tricky part: test the consistency of the mixture by putting a small amount on a teaspoon and placing it in the refrigerator. (In the meantime your salve should remain on low heat on the stovetop.) After a minute in the frig, the salve will harden to its finished consistency. Check this — it should be firm so that it does not melt when you touch it, but soft enough that you can easily pull some away from the spoon with your finger (like petroleum jelly). If it’s too hard, add more oil, if it’s too soft, add more beeswax. When you’ve reached a good consistency, remove from heat and add the Vitamin E and grapefruit seed extract. Give it a good mix until creamy, then add it to your container and let it cool to room temperature. Voila!

Herbal Salve

To make an herbal version of your salve, you’ll need to infuse the oil in advance. To do so, simply fill a small airtight jar with calendula, chamomile, or your herb of choice. Fill the jar to the brim with oil and seal it tightly. Turn the jar upside down, and set it on a towel in an area that gets light but does not get too warm. After about a week, strain out the herbs and store in a cool, dry place until you use it for salves or general skin care!

For my diaper rash salve, I avoid one of the more obvious herbal choices: comfrey. Comfrey is commonly used in skin salves, however it can have serious side effects when taken orally. Since we’re making this salve for our baby, I choose the safe side and simply do not use it.

A word on preservative: The above recipe uses grapefruit seed extract as a preservative and also to help minimize bacteria in the diaper area. Some experts, however, have stated recently that grapefruit seed extract is not as “natural” a preservative as we previously have thought. My big plan is to do some research on this, but until then, you can really leave it out, as long as you make your salve in small batches. Or you can use a combination of Vitamin A and C powders with Vitamin E oil.

[Edit: I no longer recommend grapefruit seed extract, except as necessary in cases of extreme rash, as per my research, as promised, on the safety of grapefruit seed extract. Read more in my recent post.]

Just loving it and wanting more? I’m not an herbalist myself, but I’m having lots of fun! The techniques above are adapted from recipes and instructions from two great books: Better Basics for the Home (aff) by Annie Berthold-Bond and The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm. Both have lots of recipes and recommendations for homemade concoctions, with clear directions and adaptations for more or less difficulty.

Modifications for a Diaper Rash Cream

To make a cream instead of a salve, you’ll need to include an oil that is solid at room temperature. Instead of 2 ounces olive oil, substitute 2-1/2 ounces cocoa butter or coconut oil, plus 1-1/2 ounces olive oil or your oil of choice. After melting the wax, remove from heat and add 4 ounces distilled water before blending. Optionally add a tablespoon or two of zinc oxide powder.

Newborn Diaper Rash

For newborns, your best bet is to use pure olive oil from the get go and transition after the first weeks to a salve as above. The meconium chocolate poo-stuff is *very* sticky and difficult to clean. We used olive oil spread around the area after every diaper changing. This coats a nice layer, both protecting the skin and making it easier to clean for the next changing!

How Does It Work?

Homemade SalveIn browsing the forums, I learned that what has worked for many moms for years is petroleum jelly. It follows the same concept as for newborns above, protecting the skin with a fine layer. Petroleum jelly is easier to handle than oils and works fine once you get past the meconium stage. However, petroleum jelly is made from, guess what, petroleum. Therefore not only is it a limited resource but it’s also mineral and not plant based. For baby’s health (and your own) it’s better in general to use eco-friendly plant-based oils as opposed to mineral-based. So, what we’ve made is essentially a ‘non-petroleum jelly’ that seals the skin to protect it from what’s happening in the diaper.

Natural, plant-based oils are great for baby’s skin. And avoidance of mineral-based oils goes for ‘baby oil’ too! Try almond oil or plain inexpensive olive oil instead. Almond oil works great for baby massages! And food-based oils are as pure as you can get.

Preventing Diaper Rash

Here’s what I do. To use the salve, I just rub some onto the skin after using wipes, including the creases of the skin and not just the obvious bits. You can use it at each change, or just use it when and if the skin becomes pinkish. As long as you’re changing your baby often and using natural fibers that breathe easily, you shouldn’t need it every day. You’ll keep the rash away best if you change immediately after a soiled diaper, and as soon as possible after wet ones.

I also wipe after wet changes, just to be sure the area is clean. It’s the mixture of acids in urine with the ingredients in baby number two’s that’s likely to cause a rash. Scientific version? From Wikipedia and Wolf, R., Wolf, D., Tuzun, B. & Tuzun, Y. (2001) Diaper Dermatitis. Clinics in Dermatology:

When urea breaks down in the presence of fecal urease it increases skin pH, which in turn promotes the activity of fecal enzymes such as protease and lipase. These fecal enzymes increase the skin’s permeability to bile salts and act as irritants in and of themselves.

So that’s my 1,2,3 punch:

  • natural fiber diapering to allow the area to breathe and prevent trapped wetness,
  • regular changes with thorough cleaning to keep the skin from becoming too acidic and turning into a little chemical factory,
  • and protection of the surface of the skin with an all natural salve!

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11 Responses to “Make Your Own Diaper Rash Cream”

  1. Great blog entry!
    I have also just realized that the mineral oil I used, to make my first lotion, is somewhat up for debate. Some say it’s all hogwash, but, who to trust, who to trust. I just trust the “why risk it” factor and went out and bought some coconut oil today! Buahahha!

    Thanks for the step by step on diaper creams. Have you done any research on the safety of Borax after it has been mixed with water? I’ve been doing a lot of research on it lately, but, you seem to be much farther down the research path than I… and much better at it to. I used it because I heard it helps the lotion not to separate or something. I might just try next time without it and avoid all this fuss.

    Okay, I’m rambling enough on your comments section now. Toodaloo. :)

    Dawnas last blog post..Moving is exciting and brings

  2. Thanks, Dawna,

    Yes, I believe borax is used as an emulsifier and is used to make lotion more “watery” without the fat separating out. I’ve not researched borax in detail, but you could check the Cosmetics Safety Database listing for it here.

    Isn’t coconut oil fabulous? You may find it makes a great substitute for lotion all by itself!

    Be well!

  3. Going to give this a shot right now.. been having the worst time with diaper rash that will not go away no matter what I try!

  4. Thought this website by a wonderful and knowledgeable herbalist might provide a little more insight into the safe use of Comfrey. Her knowledge is encyclopedic.

    Thanks for this blog - it’s great!!



  5. I love this post! Thank you so much for the information. I have tried making the diaper cream with 2.5 oz coconut oil, 1.5 oz olive oil, .5 oz beeswax and 4 oz water. Both attempts the cream seperated and I ended up with a very thick cream and water pockets. I have tried heating up the water as well as the oil/wax mixture before adding, as well as blending the mixture for different amounts of time. I am using a hand blender to mix. Any suggestions??

  6. I tried the cream with your recipe - no zinc oxide - and the water separated from the lotion. Guess I’ll have to use an emulsifying agent….

  7. It’s well-advised to avoid using water in any balm or salve unless you also add preservatives. Without perservatives, water-based products can and will grow bacteria (some of these strains potentially dangerous) within a matter of days, sometimes hours. This process is hastened when the product is exposed non-sterile surfaces (e.g fingertips and other areas of skin) which is pretty much unavoidable during diaper-changing.

    To date, there are really no preservatives that are free of hazards and/or contaminants. If you do some research, you’ll find that the story is similar with the emulsifiers needed to blend water and oil. The best solution is to just use an oil & beeswax in your recipes. The softness/firmness of the balm can be adjusted by reducing/increasing the quantity of beeswax.

    For example, to make a basic balm with a firm consistency similar to, say, chapstick, you would use 2 parts oil to 1 part beeswax (melted in a double boiler, then poured into a twist-up balm container). For a softer consistency (halfway between chapstick and vaseline) you would use 3 parts oil to 1 part beeswax. A sample recipe for the latter would be 6 tablespoons of oil (e.g. coconut, almond, jojoba) to 2 level tablespoons (1/2 oz. by weight) of beeswax pastilles or shavings. This recipe will fill a 2-ounce container. I’ve found that the oval-shaped twist-up deodorant applicators make great balm applicators for large areas of skin.

    If you want to make a more “scoopable” consistency balm, suitable for pouring into a jar, just up the oil proportion to 4 parts oil to 1 part beeswax. The ratios I’ve given apply to liquid carrier oils. The consistency of your finished product will vary slightly, depending on your ratio of solid oils/butters (such as kokum, mango or shea)vs. liquid oils (such as jojoba, almond, avocado or olive)you choose for your recipe. Coconut oil falls halfway between the two but, in my experience, behaves more like a liquid carrier oil in the finished product. Lastly, you don’t need to factor essential oils into the above ratios, since the amount used is minute enough to not effect the consistency.


  1. Grapefruit Seed Extract Preservative — Safe for Homemade and Natural Products? :: hippie dippie bébé
  2. Water vs. Oil in Preserving Homemade Skin Care Products :: hippie dippie bébé
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  4. Homemade Diaper Rash Cream « Karla M Curry

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