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Zinc oxide is an ingredient which is quite common in many commercial diaper rash ointments. But many parents may ask – ‘Is zinc oxide safe for my baby’? Let us learn below some pertinent facts about zinc oxide and how safe it really is for your baby.
What is Zinc Oxide?
Zinc oxide is a white mineral in the form of a powder which does not dissolve in water. It has excellent properties of making a protective barrier on your skin. For this reason, it is the active ingredient used in baby rash ointments and is also a key ingredient used to make sunscreens and other types of first-aid ointments.
Should You Use Zinc Oxide Products on Babies?
People usually fear zinc oxide due to the perceived health risks of zinc oxide nanoparticles entering the bloodstream. But according to research, zinc oxide particles which are larger than 30nm are not absorbed by the body when used in lotions or creams. So when zinc oxide is used in medical preparations, it is quite safe, and doctors usually recommend it for treating diaper rashes in babies. Also, zinc oxide is usually mixed with other ingredients to create ointments which have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, further protecting your baby’s delicate skin. But as with other over-the-counter medicines, make sure to use the ointment containing zinc oxide strictly as indicated.
Uses of Zinc Oxide
Zinc oxide is used to treat a variety of skin ailments. Here are some of its uses listed below:
- You can use zinc oxide for baby sunscreen as it will not dissolve in water, making it perfect to use by the pool or beach. Also, it effectively absorbs UV radiation and can protect your baby’s skin from UVA and UVB ultraviolet sunrays.
- You can use zinc oxide for your baby’s diaper rash as it can ease any irritation or itching caused by it.
- You can use zinc oxide in baby powder as it has soothing properties.
- Using zinc oxide cream for baby eczema is also an effective form of treatment.
- Zinc oxide can also be used to cure itching caused by sunburn, insect bites and rashes from plants.
How Does Zinc Oxide Work?
Zinc oxide is usually mixed with other substances to create a waterproof ointment. Since zinc oxide has soothing properties, when combined with the moisture barrier of the ointment, it can treat diaper rash and protect the baby’s skin from any diaper rash in the future as well. A diaper rash cream containing zinc oxide will be thicker than one without zinc oxide, and hence, will be a little more difficult to wash off courtesy the moisture barrier in the cream.
What are the Limitations of Zinc Oxide Ointments?
Still, is zinc oxide bad for babies? The answer is no, but there are some limitations. Firstly, it is difficult to wash off, and secondly, it does not kill yeast or bacteria. Therefore, if zinc oxide ointment is used for a week, but your baby’s diaper rash is still not cleared, there may be the possibility that an infection has developed. This is not uncommon as the faecal matter, moisture, and yeast present in the body makes the diaper region of skin quite susceptible to infection. Zinc oxide’s side effects can also occur if babies are allergic to any ingredient in the ointment, like zinc, lanolin, petroleum, wax or parabens.
Precautions and Considerations
Observe the following precautions when using zinc oxide ointments:
- When you are using zinc oxide for treating diaper rash, change your baby’s diapers regularly so that they don’t trap heat and moisture, further irritating your baby’s skin.
- The general consensus among parents who use cloth diapers is that zinc oxide ointments/creams shouldn’t be used if your baby wears a cloth diaper, as petroleum can build up on the cloth and cause it to repel liquids instead of absorbing them.
Using zinc oxide for babies is generally considered safe. However, it is always better to know the pros and cons of zinc oxide. When it comes to the products you use on our little ones, you can never be too careful!