Does Diaper Rash Cream Expire?

Does Diaper Rash Cream Expire?

As the baby grows, you will be left with much more than just ill-fitting clothes. One thing you’re sure to notice is the half-full bottle of diaper rash cream. But does diaper rash cream expire, or can you save it for when the next baby comes along?

Diaper rash creams typically contain components that, unfortunately, do expire. Once opened, it can go up to a year, while an unopened one can have a shelf-life of about five years. Types that contain zinc oxide will last longer compared to those manufactured with natural ingredients like essential oils.

If you’re wondering if diaper rash cream expires (and if you can use it anyway), then this post is for you. Read on to find answers to your question and for ideas on how to use expired nappy cream.

So, Does Diaper Rash Cream Expire?

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) dictates that all medicinal and wellbeing products be allocated a shelf life before it hits the market. The expiration date is marked on the packaging – sometimes on the side, other times on the base of the box. It is also found on the actual item. If you’re staring down at a tube, check the crimp area. 

When the date is past the current calendar, the diaper cream expires. The product’s expiration date does not signify that it will be worthless after that date. It merely suggests that the manufacturers will no longer guarantee its efficacy beyond that date.

Depending on the ingredients used during the manufacturing process, some brands remain safe to use way past any expiration date as long as it is stored properly. There are two main categories of creams for diaper rash:

Zinc-based Diaper Rash Creams

Zinc Oxide is preferred due to its barrier action against moisture. It’s insoluble in water, making it the perfect active ingredient. A thin layer is applied to the rash area to soothe and protect your little one’s skin throughout the day. The famous brand, Desitin, is Zinc-based.

Petroleum-based Diaper Rash Creams

As you’ve probably guessed, Petroleum is also used in diaper cream treatments. It is an ideal component as it has incredible skin protectant properties. When applied, petroleum-based ointment creates a protective barrier between your baby’s bum and moisture in the diaper.

Even though these zinc oxide and petroleum are resilient to deterioration, they are often combined with aloe, essential oils, and even active elements like dimethicone. The natural components will break down after expiry rendering the product unusable shortly after.

All in all, diaper rash cream does expire. Manufacturers include an expiration date on their goods mostly to avoid being held liable for runny, foul-smelling, or discolored creams. Just check the product itself or the box it came in to know if the medication is past its shelf life. 

Factors that Impact the Shelf Life of Diaper Rash Cream

As mentioned before, diaper rash creams begin to degrade for many reasons over time.

These are the common factors that influence the shelf life.

  • Ingredients in the product. Those with organic compounds will deteriorate faster.
  • Storage method. Cool, dry places below 25℃ (77℉) are ideal.
  • Environmental elements like exposure to sunlight, humidity, and temperature changes.

Can You Still Use Expired Diaper Rash Cream?

If you’ve recently found yourself staring at a forgotten tube of diaper cream, you’re probably wondering, whether it is still safe to use? The FDA says expired medicinal items may be less efficient or dangerous. This is often caused by a change in chemical composition or a decrease in potency. Now that the tube in your hand is past-due, should you fling it into the garbage, or is there hope of future use?

Zinc oxide is a mineral that does not degrade over time and hence remains effective. However, the different components may decay or separate over time. This implies that, while the diaper cream is still effective, it may be rather icky to use (or smell).

But when there are no natural additives, the product can last much longer. You may even find yourself using it on your second or third child. To ascertain how safe an expired tube of diaper cream is to apply on the baby calls for the trifecta: sight, smell, and touch. Here’s how:


Color changes are an indication that the components have broken down. If it was white and turned dark yellow or brown, it might be unsafe for topical use.


Diaper cream is typically the consistency of a somewhat thick paste. You can test by squeezing a pea-sized drop on your index finger. Rub it against the tip of the thumb. A notable difference in texture, whether it feels grainy or runny, is a sign of degeneration.


After you’ve used your eyes and sense of touch, it’s time to call in the big guns – your nose. Most diaper rash creams and ointments are odorless. A chemical-like or musty smell emanating from the cream says it’s time to throw out the product. determining if it is still appropriate to use on your baby

How to Use Expired Diaper Rash Cream

Now that you have ascertained that the past due product is still in good condition, how do you use the expired nappy cream? Not to worry! Thanks to its waterproof properties and soothing capabilities, you can utilize the leftover medication in several ways. Below are several uses of expired diaper rash cream to:

  • Alleviate itchy skin rashes
  • Reduce swelling and itching associated with pimples
  • Soothe razor burns after shaving
  • Minimize chafing of the skin or heal cracked heels
  • As a sunscreen

In Summary

Does diaper rash cream expire? The answer is yes. Can you still use it? Still, the answer is yes.

You no longer have to contemplate whether to discard the leftover tub in your cabinet that’s way past its due date. Creams for diaper rash that Zinc Oxide, an active ingredient, are safe to use past the stated expiration date. Those made from natural elements may disintegrate the longer they stay on the shelf.