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Does Desitin, A and D Ointment, Aquaphor and Other Diaper Rash Creams Expire?

As your family grows you will find yourself with a nursery full of half-used tubes and containers of diaper rash cream.

You may now find yourself wondering if you should keep them for future use as diaper rash creams can be used for other purposes too. The question you will now be asking yourself is, do diaper rash creams expire?

The quick answer is that yes most diaper rash creams will have an expiry date but it does depend on what ingredients they contain, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be of no use after this time.

Do Diaper Rash Creams Actually Expire?

If you have a diaper rash cream that is a natural cream that contains essential oils, the best option is to discard this after the expiration date. This is due to the fact that it could cause some skin irritation, especially on your baby’s delicate skin.

If your cream contains an ingredient called zinc oxide these need to be carefully examined for any signs of change.

Changes to be noted are a change in smell, texture, or color as these can mean that the cream is past its best and should be disposed of.

These changes can indicate that the key ingredients are breaking down making the cream far less effective and having the potential to cause irritation.

Due to the fact, that diaper rash cream is considered a medication, the FDA requires that it has an expiration date.

As they are typically an over-the-counter medication they do not have to be reviewed or approved by the FDA, but they do of course have to comply with any existing FDA regulations in order for them to be marketed.

As you have probably noticed most diaper rash creams whether they come in a pot or a tube will have an expiration date on them somewhere.

Although this expiration date does not mean that the product will be unusable after that date, it merely means that the manufacturers will not guarantee its effectiveness after such date.

Mother moisturizing baby1

Type Of Diaper Rash Cream

As a parent, you have no doubt bought your fair share of diaper rash cream. But did you know that the ingredients in each one determine its expiration date? So here are two of the most common groups of diaper rash cream:


For this group, the main ingredient contained in the diaper rash cream is Zinc Oxide. The main purpose of this ingredient is to protect and treat diaper rash.

They usually come in the form of ointments and also contain other active ingredients called dimethicone and then have aloe or essential oils to aid with itchiness and moisturizing. 

The zinc oxide and dimethicone do not expire, so you could say that they are always safe to use. But the same can not be said for those added ingredients. A&D and Desitin are examples of Zinc based creams.


This type of diaper rash cream creates a barrier between your baby’s bottom and the moisture usually from a wet diaper. Aquaphor and Vaseline are both good examples of this type of product.

If Expired Will Diaper Rash Cream Still Work?

Whether or not these creams will continue to work after their expiration date is dependent on what ingredients are in them. 

The vast majority of standard diaper rash creams are usually zinc oxide based. Zinc Oxide is unlikely to lose its effectiveness over time as it does not go through any chemical changes, meaning that they are chemically inert.

But other ingredients in diaper rash cream play an equally important role in their effectiveness, such as whether or not the cream is distributed evenly when placed on the skin.

Many other diaper rash creams contain natural ingredients such as essential oils which are not chemically inert and so will begin to break down over time.

This can lead to skin irritation, which is the last thing in the world you want for a baby who already has extremely sensitive skin.

Diaper rash cream can and usually does continue to be effective even after its expiration date has passed.

But the manufacturers are not prepared to guarantee that effectiveness after the expiration date, this is why they place an expiration date on the manufacturer’s labels.

Are There Dangers With Using Expired Diaper Rash Cream?

This could go either way they could be perfectly safe to use and be as effective as they ever were or they could potentially lead to further skin irritation and be less effective.

With this in mind, it is probably best to dispose of any products that contain natural ingredients like essential oils once they have passed their expiration date.

Expired essential oils can cause skin irritation, rashes, burning, and peeling. Being exposed to oxygen, light, and heat all speed up this process further. Just simple opening diaper rash cream and using it will expose it to oxygen and start the process.

Another factor to consider is how far past the expiration date the diaper rash cream is. If it is only a few months then it may not be such a big deal to use it. But if it is years past its expiration date then it may be best in the trash.

Does Desitin Diaper Rash Cream Expire?

Desitin’s primary ingredient is zinc oxide and although it does have an expiration date inline with FDA regulations, you are probably safe to use it after its expiration date.

These types of diaper rash creams will have a much longer shelf life than natural products that contain essential oils. 

But be aware that Desitin does use cod liver oil as an ingredient. So if there is a rancid smell then you should throw the product out.

Does A&D Diaper Rash Cream Expire?

The active ingredients in A&D are zinc oxide and dimethicone. Both are chemically inactive so are stable and do not go through any chemical changes so this would suggest that they will remain effective past their expiration date.

But many of the inactive ingredients contain some form of oil such as coconut or cod liver oil.

These oils will turn rancid and so it is best to carefully examine the smell, color, and texture of the cream. If there is a strange odor, it has separated or discolored it is probably best to dispose of it.

Does Aquaphor Diaper Rash Cream Expire?

Aquaphor is a great example of petroleum-based diaper cream.

To answer the question, probably not. The active ingredient is petroleum jelly which itself does not expire. So you could continue to use it once it has passed its expiration date.

But it can become rancid if it has been left in the sun for long periods of time. Also, bacteria can get inside the pot and begin to breed. So if it has been opened, it is probably best not to use it past its expiration date.

The Final Thought

If you have asked yourself the question does diaper rash cream expire? The answer is not really. If it looks, smells, and feels okay then there is a pretty good chance that it is.

But you still need to be careful, expired diaper rash cream does have the potential to be harmful to your baby.

And as a parent, I know it is just not worth taking a risk with your baby’s health. If at all possible it is best to avoid diaper rash cream that is past its expiration date, just toss it in the trash and purchase some new ointment!