Aquaphor is a thick ointment made of petroleum jelly, mineral oil, ceresin, lanolin alcohol, and panthenol. It is commonly used for treating diaper rash and keeping baby’s skin soft and moisturized. But is it necessary or even beneficial to use it at every diaper change? There are pros and cons to consider.
The pros of using aquaphor every diaper change
Here are some potential benefits of using aquaphor at each diaper change:
- Prevents diaper rash – The thick barrier helps protect baby’s delicate skin from moisture, friction, and irritants in urine and stool that can lead to diaper rash.
- Soothes existing diaper rash – Aquaphor can help soothe and heal red, irritated skin if a diaper rash develops.
- Moisturizes – Petrolatum and other ingredients help seal in moisture and hydrate dry skin.
- Protects minor scrapes/irritations – The ointment can form a protective barrier over any small scrapes or irritations caused by diapers.
- Easy routine – Applying aquaphor each diaper change makes it an easy routine to remember instead of guessing when you need it.
Using aquaphor with each diaper change essentially creates a protective moisturizing barrier on baby’s bottom at all times. This prevents many skin issues and soothes any existing irritation. It’s a simple routine that many parents swear by to keep baby’s skin happy and healthy.
The cons of using aquaphor every diaper change
However, there are also some potential downsides to using aquaphor so frequently:
- Greasy residue – Aquaphor is thick and greasy, leaving behind a residue on the skin that can be messy.
- Difficult clean up – The thick ointment can make clean up more difficult, requiring several wipes to remove completely.
- Stains clothes/bedding – Any excess aquaphor left on the skin can transfer onto and stain clothing, pajamas, and sheets.
- Interferes with absorbency – Applying a thick ointment each change can coat the skin and interfere with diapers absorbing urine and stool.
- Not breathable – Petrolatum doesn’t allow skin to breathe and perspire normally.
- Possible reactions – Some babies may have sensitivities or allergic reactions to ingredients like lanolin.
- Too much moisture – Frequent use could lead to over-hydrated skin prone to fungal infections.
The thick occlusive barrier aquaphor forms can be inconvenient to deal with and possibly lead to new skin issues if overused. Finding the right balance is key.
When should you use aquaphor?
Here are some guidelines from pediatricians on when aquaphor is most helpful:
- For treating diaper rash – Apply a thick layer at each change until rash resolves.
- For severe dryness and eczema – Use 1-2 times per day if skin is extremely dry, itchy, or cracked.
- During antibiotic treatment – Antibiotics can cause rashes, so apply at each change as a preventive measure.
- With each bath – Seal in moisture by applying after every bath while skin is still damp.
- Before bed – Create an occlusive layer before long sleep stretches when exposure to stool/urine is more likely.
- During illnesses causing diarrhea – Frequent acidic stools call for the protective barrier of aquaphor.
- Withintroducing new foods – Apply with each change as food allergies/sensitivities may develop and cause rashes.
Targeted, strategic use when skin is compromised, irritated, or at high risk for breakdown is recommended over routine use at every single diaper change.
Best practices for using aquaphor
If you choose to use aquaphor as a regular part of your diapering routine, here are some tips for getting the benefits without as many of the downsides:
- Use thinly – Apply a very thin layer just enough to “seal” the skin rather than slathering on a thick coat.
- Focus on key areas – Spot treat delicate areas like creases and folds rather than all over.
- Layer over moisturizer – Apply moisturizer first to hydrate skin then aquaphor on top to lock it in.
- Wipe thoroughly – Make sure to wipe off any residual ointment well with each change.
- Change clothes/bedding promptly if soiled – Don’t let the ointment sit on fabrics.
- Take a day off here and there – Like a “diaper holiday” to let skin breathe.
- Stop if reactions develop – Discontinue use if any discomfort, redness, or rash occurs.
With smart, selective use, aquaphor can be an effective way to keep your baby’s sensitive skin protected without any messy or frustrating drawbacks.
Which brand of aquaphor is best?
Aquaphor Healing Ointment is the name brand developed by Eucerin over 100 years ago. It has several store brand equivalents as well:
|Aquaphor Healing Ointment||Major retailers like Walmart, Target, etc.|
|Equate Baby Petroleum Jelly||Walmart|
|Up & Up Petrolatum Skin Protectant Jelly||Target|
|CVS Health Petroleum Jelly||CVS|
The ingredients and formulation are virtually identical across brands. But some parents claim the name brand, Aquaphor Healing Ointment, feels more smooth and fast-absorbing upon application. However, store brands can offer huge savings – often close to half the price. Overall, any brand of simple petrolatum ointment will perform essentially the same.
What’s the difference between aquaphor and petroleum jelly?
Petrolatum, commonly known as petroleum jelly, is the main active ingredient comprising over 40% of Aquaphor. However, Aquaphor also includes:
- Mineral oil – A moisturizing emollient oil
- Ceresin – A waxy fat that thickens the ointment
- Lanolin alcohol – An emollient from wool fat
- Panthenol – Vitamin B5 to nourish skin
So plain petroleum jelly products, like Vaseline, contain 100% petrolatum while Aquaphor has added moisturizing, nourishing ingredients. However, both provide the same effective occlusive barrier to seal in moisture and prevent skin breakdown.
Some benefits parents notice with Aquaphor over plain petroleum jelly are that it feels smoother going on, may be more soothing with added panthenol, and provides light moisture from the mineral oil and lanolin alcohol. But plain petroleum jelly is also an excellent choice if cost is a main factor.
Is aquaphor safe for newborns?
Yes, Aquaphor and its main ingredient petrolatum are considered safe for newborns and babies. The ointment can be gently applied from day 1 to help protect the delicate skin of even premature infants.
Some key points about newborn safety:
- Hypoallergenic – Formulated not to cause allergic reactions.
- Non-comedogenic – Won’t clog pores leading to breakouts.
- Free of fragrance/dyes – Minimizes irritation for sensitive newborn skin.
- Rich in moisturizers – Helps hydrate without drying chemicals.
- pH neutral – Won’t disrupt skin’s naturally acidic pH balance.
Of course, it’s always smart to spot test on a small area first, as a rare allergy is possible. But aquaphor is designed for even the most delicate newborn skin and is commonly used in hospitals and NICUs.
How often should you use aquaphor on a newborn?
For regular use on healthy newborn skin, a few times a week is often plenty:
- After baths
- Before bed
- For dry/flaky areas like hands, feet, cheeks
- During seasonal dryness
During times of extra dryness or irritation, you can use aquaphor on a newborn at every diaper change. Then back off once skin improves. Signs it’s needed more often are redness, itching, dry/cracked skin. As long as your newborn doesn’t react negatively, feel free to use aquaphor as often as keeps their skin happy.
Does aquaphor help baby acne?
Aquaphor itself does not treat the cause of baby acne, which is maternal hormones still circulating after delivery. However, it can help soothe and protect pimples and irritated skin from further inflammation. Its hydrating and occlusive properties make it helpful for managing baby acne in several ways:
- Moisturizes – Hydrates dry, flaky skin around acne.
- Soothes – Calms redness and inflammation of pimples.
- Protects – Forms barrier between acne and diapers/clothing/bedding.
- Prevents infection – Seals out germs that could infect pimples.
- Promotes healing – Enables new skin growth by keeping pimples moist.
To use aquaphor for baby acne, apply a thin layer 1-2 times per day after bathing and gently dabbing skin dry. Avoid thick applications that could clog pores. See the pediatrician if acne is severe, infected, or not improving.
Can I use aquaphor on my baby’s face?
Yes, aquaphor is safe to use on a baby’s face. The petrolatum base helps lock in moisture while allowing skin to breathe. Key tips for using on the delicate facial area:
- Eyes – Avoid direct contact with the eyes as petroleum jelly can be irritating. Gently dab around eyes.
- Lips – Apply lightly to lips to prevent chapping.
- Nose – Use sparingly inside nostrils to protect from irritation during colds and allergies.
- Dry patches – Rub gently onto dry cheeks, chin, forehead.
- Irritation – Dab on diaper rash extending onto cheeks or around mouth.
- Eczema – Use 1-2 times per day to hydrate and protect patches.
Take care not to get aquaphor in the eyes. Use the minimum amount needed and wipe away any excess. Discontinue use if any redness or irritation develops.
Can I use aquaphor on my baby’s scalp?
Petrolatum is not generally recommended for use on the scalp. Reasons to avoid aquaphor on the scalp include:
- Potential hair loss – Coating hair follicles in thick petrolatum may disrupt growth cycles.
- Difficult to wash out – Nearly impossible to fully shampoo out of hair.
- Irritation risk – Baby’s scalp is particularly sensitive to potential allergens.
- Greasy build up – Can leave hair limp, flat, and greasy.
- Skin suffocation – Scalp needs to breathe; aquaphor may block airflow and cause fungal or yeast infections.
Instead, look for hydrating hair products specially formulated for babies and safe for the scalp. However, aquaphor can be used strategically on small areas of scalp irritation or cradle cap. Apply just to the affected area 1-2 times per day for a few days until improved.
Should I use aquaphor at every diaper change?
Using aquaphor at every diaper change is generally not necessary and may do more harm than good. Routine use often leads to:
- Messy clean up
- Difficulty absorbing urine
- Frequent clothing/sheet stains
- Dehydrated or over hydrated skin
- Allergic reactions
The AAP recommends using thick diaper creams like aquaphor no more than 3 times a day. Targeted use when skin is compromised is best. Only use with each change if:
- Treating diaper rash
- During illness causing diarrhea
- With antibiotic use causing rashes
- For severely dry, cracked skin
For general moisturizing, use lighter lotions and creams designed for daily baby skin care. Reserve aquaphor for healing and protecting raw, irritated skin during times of frequent exposure to moisture and friction in the diaper area.
Aquaphor can be a great addition to your diapering routine when used wisely. Strategic application when skin needs some extra protection can help prevent and heal rashes while providing soothing moisture. But aquaphor’s occlusive properties also mean it could lead to irritation, allergies, and other problems if overused. Look for signs your baby’s skin truly requires intensive moisturizing. Then apply aquaphor no more than 2-3 times per day just to compromised areas, not slathered at every single change. With smart, selective use, you can harness aquaphor’s benefits without the mess and hassle of constant application.