Parenting, especially parenting a young baby, can be just plain hard.
Long hours and fretting over a little one can make even the most even-keeled person feel like they’re losing their mind, and some problems are pretty much inevitable.
Diaper rash is one of those problems.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix diaper rash: using an ointment either preventatively or to treat a rash is a simple step to end your baby’s discomfort and the tears that come with it.
Aquaphor and Desitin are both well-known, well-respected brands for treating diaper rash, but when it comes to Aquaphor vs Desitin, which is best for your baby?
The Quick-and-Dirty Facts
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To put it simply, Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment and Desitin Daily Defense use different ingredients to do pretty much the same job at around the same price point.
Both creams are hypoallergenic and paraben, phthalate, and fragrance-free
so unless your child has an unusual skin sensitivity you will likely find either gentle enough to use every day.
However, there are important differences that will likely tip the needle one way or the other for you depending on your situation.
If you’re looking for a simple salve for mild diaper rash or preventative moisturizing, Aquaphor fits the bill.
It has fewer ingredients than Desitin, and is a more general-purpose moisturizer.
Desitin, on the other hand, boasts a formula specifically optimized for diaper rash.
If your baby already has a rash or is prone to rashes, you’ll want to opt for this cream.
Layering on Desitin between diaper changes will likely be more effective than Aquaphor in this situation.
- Creamy, easy to rub in texture
- Multi-purpose moisture
- Simple, gentle formula
- Promotes healing with a breathable barrier
- Good price
- Slick, smooth texture
- Specially formulated for diaper rash
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-microbal
- Water-repellant formula prevents rubbing, but is harder to wash off
- Good price
Aquaphor Vs Desitin: The Review
Aquaphor: Soothing Moisture
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Available in a jar or tube, Aquaphor is a smooth, white cream. It has a mildly greasy feel that’s similar to petroleum jelly but lighter.
This texture is indicative of Aquaphor’s main strength:
providing a gentle barrier that can give damaged skin the space to heal or a protective layer to prevent irritation in the first place.
Although the cream creates a moisture barrier, it’s easy to rub into skin, so it doesn’t get all over clothes or blankets.
With few ingredients and a petrolatum-based formula, Aquaphor prevents the natural moisture of your baby’s skin from escaping.
Where chapped skin starts to crack, the barrier Aquaphor makes can help prevent infection too (though it doesn’t stop infection after it starts).
These two traits make Aquaphor especially useful in colder or drier climates, where it can be rubbed in daily to dry spots on babies, kids or adults.
In addition to creating a moisture barrier with oils and waxes, Aquaphor’s ingredients help proactively moisturize and calm irritation.
The ingredients include glycerin and panthenol, which are both humectants.
Humectants are moisturizing agents that draw water from the air into the skin.
bisabolol, from chamomile, is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps stop itches, too.
This blend of ingredients allows Aquaphor to gently soothe, moisturize and protect all at once.
Desitin: Reliable Rash Relief
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Desitin is a white cream available in a variety of sizes, the most economical being 16-ounce tub available on Amazon.
It has a heavy, thick feel with a slick texture. The cream excels at curing diaper rash.
Formulated to be used preventatively, the cream can be smeared onto a clean bottom and further layered on after each diaper change.
The slick layer of residue left by the water repellant cream makes washing after messy diaper changes easier, too.
It also prevents friction from aggravating sensitive skin further.
Desitin’s formula features mineral oil, petrolatum, and beeswax to support the water repellant seal created by its active ingredient, zinc oxide.
You might recognize zinc oxide as a main player in many sunscreens, but it’s also an excellent ingredient for soothing skin and preventing infections.
The minor players in the formula are important, too. Aloe vera, tropolone, and magnesium sulfate provide anti-inflammatory effects, while tocopheryl acetate acts as an antioxidant.
Other ingredients are binders that keep all the ingredients from separating, conditioners that help smooth rough skin, or balancing agents.
Although Desitin is fragrance-free, it does have a noticeable smell that some parents find unpleasant.
Desitin isn’t a very versatile cream.
Though Desitin can be used for general moisturizing, such as on chapped hands, it’s very difficult to rub in and hard to wash off, making it less than ideal for general use.
So, if you’re specifically treating diaper rash or trying to prevent it on a child with sensitive skin, Desitin is a great candidate.
Unless you like sporting a layer of white residue, however, try a different lotion for general moisturizing.
So, What’s Best for Baby?
A key highlight of Aquaphor Healing Ointment is that it’s multi-use. If you’re considering aquaphor vs desitin, Aquaphor is the more flexible option.
It can be used for dry skin and scratches as well as diaper rash irritation, and parents can use it to moisturize the dry skin that comes with washing and re-washing your hands as you care for a little one.
If your little one’s rash is more severe, using Desitin to cure the rash will probably be more effective.
For babies with bottoms that get irritated easily, too, using Desitin preventatively is a better idea than using Aquaphor.
In most cases, it will make sense to try Aquaphor first (using a smaller size is a good idea) and move on to Desitin if Aquaphor doesn’t work for you.
A Few Other Things
When it comes down to it, you and your baby are unique. No matter how carefully you research, it’s always possible that you’ll try one option and end up preferring the other.
Remember when considering Aquaphor vs Desitin that both are healthy options for most babies
but some babies may be sensitive or even allergic to an ingredient in one of these creams.
Although both Aquaphor and Desitin are easy to clean up in most cases, if you use cloth diapers the residue of these water-repellant creams may cause the diapers to become less absorbent over time.
This is a bigger concern if you chose to use Desitin (since zinc oxide is a stronger water repellant than petrolatum) but neither cream is ideal for repeated use against the same cloth diaper.
Because of this, you may want to check with your manufacturer before choosing a cream if you use cloth diapers.
It’s also important to remember that if your baby develops diaper rash that lasts longer than a week, worsens after treatment or recurs, you should check in with a pediatrician.
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