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How Do I Choose the Best Baby Powder?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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Baby powder can help to keep your child’s diaper area dry between changing, reducing the chances of diaper rash. When choosing a baby powder, make sure that the product does not contain talc, as this can cause breathing problems for your child. To help treat an existing diaper rash, choose a product labeled medicated. In most cases, it is best to avoid products with fragrance, as this can irritate sensitive skin. To best protect your child’s delicate skin, an all-natural baby powder is often ideal.

The most common bases for this product are talc, cornstarch, and baking soda. When choosing a baby powder, it is important to avoid products that contain talc, and instead opt for cornstarch- or baking soda-based powders. Talc, when inhaled, can irritate the lungs since its particles are so small, which can be especially harmful in young babies and children. The particles in in other bases are larger, making it less likely that they will reach the lungs. While talc baby powders are still on the market as of 2011, inhalation of this product can cause talcum powder poisoning, which can result in diarrhea, vomiting, and other serious health issues.

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While baby powder can help to prevent diaper rash by keeping moisture away from your child’s skin, some varieties can even treat an existing diaper rash. If this is something that you need from a baby powder, look for products that are labeled medicated. They are typically cornstarch-based, and contain zinc oxide, which is the active ingredient in most diaper rash ointments and creams.

Oftentimes, baby powder is used to prevent or mask diaper odors, but it is typically best to avoid products that are scented. The chemicals used to create fragrance in baby powder can irritate your child’s sensitive skin, and can make an existing diaper rash worse. Unscented baby powder usually has some deodorizing effect simply by soaking up excess moisture. When shopping, look for products labeled for sensitive skin or as unscented, both of which indicate that no fragrance has been added to the product.

In general, a cornstarch-based, unscented baby powder works well for most children when used appropriately. However, these products can still contain chemicals to which many parents may not want their child directly exposed, such as sodium borate and DMDM hydantoin, both of which can be irritating to the skin. Natural products, which typically utilize arrow root, ground oatmeal, and herbs for fragrance, can help to eliminate many of the chemicals to which your child could be exposed while still keeping his or her skin dry.

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