Vaseline® for Diaper Rash . . .  Is There a Better Option?

Vaseline® for Diaper Rash . . . Is There a Better Option?

Vaseline® was created in 1859 by the chemist Robert Chesebrough. It was originally extracted from “rod wax” which was the oil residue left on oil pumps. Vaseline has been in use for so long that the word “vaseline” is now a generic term for petroleum jelly in many countries.

Diaper rash, which is the common term for diaper dermatitis, can be a parent's worst recurring nightmare. Its global prevalence may be 50% according to some studies. In the United States, diapers dermatitis constitutes 10% to 20% of all skin disorders.

Vaseline®, and other brands of petroleum jelly, have been the go-to products for diaper rash for decades. . . but  . . .is this the best choice?

Pros of using Petroleum Jelly for Diaper Rash

  • Cheap
  • Easily available
  • Several sizes are available
  • Long shelf life, per some sources 10 years to forever

Cons of using Petroleum Jelly for Diaper Rash

  • Holds moisture in against the baby’s delicate skin 
  • Petroleum based
  • Does not let skin breathe (occlusive)
  • Does not contain skin nurturing elements

Let’s look deeper into the other cons of using Vaseline® for diaper rash

Accidental consumption - as parents know, anything and everything ends up in a baby’s mouth. Diaper rash products are no exception. What is put on the baby’s skin must be safe for the baby to consume. Petroleum jelly is for external use only and should not be ingested. There is also a concern that if it gets around the baby’s nose area it could be inhaled which creates a risk of aspiration pneumonia

Allergies - Babies can have, or can develop, allergies from petroleum-derived products. This is especially a concern if the product is being used for diaper rash as it may make the condition worse. Because there is already skin irritation the parent may not be able to determine if the petroleum jelly is making the diaper rash worse. 

The use of petroleum jelly may be continuous over 2 years while the child is wearing diapers, which makes the risk of developing a petroleum based allergy a significant concern.

Infection - Petroleum jelly is primarily used to keep moisture and wetness off the baby's skin. This also means that it will prevent moisture and wetness that is already on the baby’s skin from evaporating. Most parents will not take the time to allow the skin to completely air dry after diaper  removal and clean up before applying a skin product and clean diaper.  Vaseline’s® website states it melts into the spaces between skin cells providing superior occlusivity.  Occlusivity is defined as the ability to shut off or obstruct something. The occlusive nature of petroleum jelly makes it easy for bacteria to be trapped under the barrier and against the skin or locked into pores.

Is petroleum jelly effective in preventing diaper rash? A randomized clinical trial published in the Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing found that there was no statistically significant improvement in the prevention of diaper rash in the experimental group that used petroleum jelly compared to the control group. 

Are there better alternatives to treating diaper rash than Vaseline®?


The best solution for diaper rashes is not getting them. Keeping babies' bums clean and dry are always the most important steps for preventing diaper rashes.

But . . . 

We all live in the real world and diaper rashes can appear even when parents do everything perfectly. 

Finding a diaper rash product that is made only with organic, nurturing ingredients can be an invaluable tool in the battle against diaper rash.

Check this article for the differences between creams and balms.

Spoiler - Balms also provide a protective layer for the skin.

Petroleum Jelly for Diaper Rash FAQ


Yes - refer to the ingredients list for petroleum jelly, petrolatum, Vaseline®, soft paraffin, multi-hydrocarbon, CAS Number 8009-03-8 or sometimes mineral oil to determine if a product has petroleum jelly.

We may be slightly biased, but we believe The Green Forest Lady Organic Baby Booty Balm is the best product to prevent and use on diaper rash.

Vaseline® has been around for decades. Often several generations of family members swear by Vaseline® which makes petroleum jelly the easy choice because everyone seems to be using it. Even a decade ago the choices available for parents for diaper rash were much more limited than they are now. Today, products with organic and nurturing ingredients are commonly available to treat and prevent diaper rash.

A nappy rash and a diaper rash are the same condition.
"Nappy" is used in the United Kingdom while Diaper is used in the USA, Canada and several other countries.
Nappy comes from the word Napkin, while diaper has a less obvious history.
Diaper came from the Greek work "diaperon" which means cloth. In 1948 the first disposable diapers were made available in the US. Before that date only cloth "diapers" were available.

Changing diapers frequently is often the most overlooked step for parents.

Newborns and infants can urinate & poop 7-16 times a day.

Having urine or poop against a baby's delicate skin for even a short period of time can contribute to diaper rashes.

Using a Baby Booty Balm. can help provide an extra layer of protection for the baby's skin.

Yes . . . but, there may be better options that provide soothing and nourishing care without occluding or holding moisture against your baby's delicate skin.

A non-occlusive choice to help diaper rash is Baby Booty Balm.

Vaseline can prevent a barrier that will keep out moisture and may help prevent a diaper rash if placed on clean dry skin; however, moisture is frequently trapped under the petroleum jelly or can leach under the product which can cause. or exacerbate a rash , especially on delicate baby skin.

An excellent choice to help a baby's rash is Baby Booty Balm.

Petroleum Jelly when used on a baby's skin can be accidentally consumed. Petroleum Jelly is a by-product of petroleum production and is for external use only and should not be consumed.

There is a concern regarding accidental inhalation in babies causing a risk of aspiration pneumonia. 

Allergies to Vaseline and other petroleum products are possible and can cause a rash or make an existing rash worse.

Irritants that may be under the Vaseline and make the rash worse are a concern as Vaseline is occlusive and does not let the skin breathe which makes it easy for bacteria to be trapped under the petroleum jelly barrier and locked into the baby's pores.

This depends on the problem you are trying to solve. There are several items to consider when comparing Vaseline vs Bag Balm

Ingredients Bag Balm: petrolatum, lanolin, paraffin wax, water, and 8-Hydroxyquinoline Sulfate (0.3%).

Vaseline: petrolatum

Hazards information at the National Institutes of Health gives the 8-Hydroxyquinoline Sulfate compound in Bag Balm a

Danger rating that it is toxic if swallowed,
Warning rating that it may cause an allergic skin reaction,
Danger rating that it can cause serious eye damage,
Danger warning that it may damage an unborn child.

The petrolatum in both products and the lanolin and paraffin wax in Bag Balm can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. The percentage of individuals with lanolin allergies is increasing.

Use in children of either Bag Balm or Vaseline is not recommended for these reasons as often children will have continual daily use over several years. Use in adults is often short-term (over a few days) to help a specific self-limiting problem. For example, an adult may use either product for 4 days following a small superficial burn on their hand versus daily use over 2 years to prevent or help a diaper rash.

Bag Balm vs Vaseline direct comparison

Cost: Vaseline per oz is about half the cost of Bag Balm
Shelf Life: While neither product has a specific shelf life, it is recommended that Vaseline be replaced after 3 years and Bag Balm after 5 years. If either product has a change in color, smell, consistency etc it is recommended it be replaced immediately.
Form: Both are semi-solid and jelly-like with Bag Balm being generally creamier than Vaseline due to it's additional ingredients.
Scent: Vaseline is essentially odorless while Bag Balm has a moderate, but not over-powering, medicinal scent.
Bag Balm is available in it's original tin, a plastic tube and individual sample packets.
Vaseline is available in a plastic jar, plastic tube, and individual packets.

We recommend the following products:

For Diaper Rash - The Green Forest Lady Baby Booty Balm for its safe, nurturing and protecting ingredients

For Nipples & Lips - The Green Forest Lady Nipple Balm

For little sores, bites and burns The Green Forest Lady Boo Boo Balm

Nothing but a fragrance

Per the Vaseline website, the ingredients in
Baby Vaseline are 99.96% White petrolatum.
Original Vaseline are 100% White petrolatum.

Fragrance is listed as an Inactive Ingredient for Baby Vaseline

Original Vaseline ® does not have lanolin.

See this article to learn more about lanolin. Lanolin: Is it Really Safe?

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