Zinc Oxide For Babies: Safety, Uses, And Precautions To Take – MomJunction

Determining the safety of zinc oxide for your little one is vital to avoid side effects.
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Due to its skin-protective properties, using zinc oxide for babies is mostly considered safe. As a result, it is often an active component in sunscreens, baby powders, baby lotions, and other skincare products. For example, calamine lotion, a topical treatment for skin irritation, is one of the most popular zinc oxide-containing skincare products for babies.
Since zinc oxide is widely used, you’re likely to encounter it in at least one babycare product. Therefore, knowing whether this compound is truly safe can help you make the best skincare choices for your baby.
This post discusses the safety, side effects, potential advantages, and precautions to consider when using products containing zinc oxide for babies.
The topical application of zinc oxide is considered safe for babies’ skin (1). Research indicates that the compound’s nanoparticlesiParticles less than 100 nanometers in size widely used in medicine (drug delivery) and healthcare applications linger in the skin’s epidermis and do not penetrate the deeper dermis layer. There is also no cellular toxicity noted due to repeated topical use of zinc oxide.
The compound is approved for use in skincare products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The concentration of zinc oxide is limited to 25%, which is the safe limit (2). Considering the extensive research and FDA approval, zinc oxide can be noted as safe for babies when used topically.
Zinc oxide is found in several baby skincare products. The compound could be used in the treatment or management of the following conditions in babies.

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock
Besides these uses, zinc oxide may also be found in regular baby soaps, skin moisturizers, and talcum powders. It may also be found in certain types of suppositories and may be used locally in treatment of hemorrhoidsiA condition in which the rectal and anal region veins get swollen (7).
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An allergic reaction to topical zinc oxide is extremely rare, considering it has anti-inflammatory properties useful for relieving allergy-related skin conditions, such as eczema (8). Most side effects of zinc oxide arise due to accidental ingestion or inhalation of its fumes (9). Inhalation of zinc oxide fumes usually occurs in an industrial setting, and it is highly unlikely that an infant will be exposed to it. Therefore, the only potential risk for the baby is accidental ingestion of zinc oxide-based lotion or ointment.
The ingestion of zinc oxide is a case of accidental poisoning and could lead to the following side effects (10) (11).

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Take your baby to the emergency room immediately if you notice any of the symptoms. Remember to carry the bottle or container of the zinc oxide product so that the healthcare provider can provide a relevant antidote based on the product’s formulation.
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The following precautions could help in the safe use of zinc oxide for babies.
1. Is zinc oxide safe for a baby’s face?
Zinc oxide is an active ingredient in calamine lotion. And according to a study, calamine lotion was applied to the baby’s face and other body parts to relieve itchiness, and it didn’t have any side effects. Therefore, you may apply lotions and creams containing zinc oxide on your baby’s face (12). However, check with your pediatrician on the quantity.
2. Is zinc good for newborns?
Yes. Zinc is safe for newborns, and the daily allowance of elemental zinc for babies below six months is 3mg/d (4).
3. What heals diaper rash fastest?
Diaper rash is a common occurrence in many infants and babies. Some effective ways to heal diaper rash quickly include keeping the baby’s skin dry and clean, frequent diaper changes, and applying ointments and creams (13). However, the timeframe for the healing of diaper rash depends on various factors, including the cause and severity.
4. Is zinc oxide good for a baby rash?
Yes. Zinc oxide is an active ingredient in creams and jelly applied to babies to treat baby rashes, including diaper rash and sunscreens that help prevent sun rash (14).
5. Is zinc oxide the same as Desitin?
Zinc oxide cream is used to treat various skin issues in babies, including cuts, wounds, and rashes. Desitin, Desitin Maximum Strength, and Desitin Rapid Relief are common brand names for zinc oxide creams (15). It is safe to consult your pediatrician before using these creams for your baby.
Zinc oxide for babies is considered safe for topical application. Hence, it is found in many baby skin care products. Products containing zinc oxide are effective in soothing nappy rash, dermatitis, sunburn, and several other conditions. However, keep the container away from the baby’s reach to avoid accidental inhalation or ingestion. Accidental exposure may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and yellowing of skin and eyes. Further, it is best to perform an allergy test before using zinc-oxide products in combination with other ingredients.
Commercial diaper rash creams may have a mixture of several ingredients and chemicals. Choosing the best from the extensive range of products may be difficult. So why not make a safe and effective diaper rash cream at home for your little one? The infographic below shows you how to do it.

homemade diaper rash cream recipe with zinc oxide (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team
Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team
MomJunction articles include first-hand experiences to provide you with better insights through real-life narratives. Here are the sources of personal accounts referenced in this article.
1. Zinc oxide shows no link to skin damage; Harvard Medical School
2. Zinc Oxide; Chemical Safety Facts
3. Bowel Movements and Diaper Rash; UC San Diego Health
4. Mrinal Gupta et al., Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review; U.S. National Library of Medicine
5. 9 Sunscreen Tips for Your Kids; Children’s Hospital Colorado
6. Agnieszka Kołodziejczak-Radzimska and Teofil Jesionowski, Zinc Oxide—From Synthesis to Application: A Review; U.S. National Library of Medicine
7. Zinc Oxide; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
8. Elisabeth Anderson, Summer Staple – Zinc Oxide; Michigan State University
9. Zinc oxide overdose; U.S. National Library of Medicine
10. Calamine Lotion; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
11. Abendrot and U. Kalinowska-Lis, Zinc-containing compounds for personal care applications; International Journal of Cosmetic Science
12. Kwa Siew Kim et al.; Neonatal rash A case study; Australian Family Physician (2012)
13. Zinc-containing compounds for personal care applications; International Journal of Cosmetic Science
14. Newborn Skin 101; Johns Hopkins Medicine
15. Abendrot and U. Kalinowska-Lis, Zinc Oxide cream, ointment, paste; Cleveland Clinic
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