Does Diaper Rash Cream Expire?

A person changing a baby

As your baby grows older, you will likely find yourself with a lot of half-used diaper cream bottles and tubes stashed somewhere in your cabinets. At this point, you may wonder if you should keep them for the future, give them to a friend or just throw them away. The question on your mind will likely be; does diaper rash cream expire? Depending with the ingredients used in manufacture the cream, some diaper rash creams do expire.

A person changing a baby

Types Of Diaper Rash Cream

Diaper rash is a common problem among babies. You’ve probably bought a lot of them from the time your little one was born. The ingredients in the cream determine how long it will last. So before we look at the sell-by date, we need to know the types of diaper rash creams and what’s in them.

Diaper rash creams come in two main groups:


This type works by putting a layer of protection between your baby’s bottom and the moisture. You probably know brands such as Aquaphor and plain old Vaseline.


Most of these contain Zinc Oxide. Not to get into the technical details, but these ingredients both protect and treat the diaper rash. Many of these come in the form of ointments mixed with other ingredients such as aloe. Creams such as A&D and Desitin are Zinc-based.

Does Diaper Rash Cream Expire?

In general, if diaper rash cream has not been opened and it is in its original container well sealed, it is usually at its optimum potency 6 months after expiration.

The active ingredients in most diaper rash creams don’t really expire. They just become less effective.

The expiry date depends on the other ingredients found in the cream. After a while, the ingredients may separate, change color or consistency. When diaper rash cream stays for too long, the chemical mixture might not be as stable as it was. 

That’s probably the reason why most manufacturers put an expiry date on their products. Manufacturers don’t want to be responsible for watery, awful smelling discolored creams.

A baby wearing diapers

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Is It Okay To Use Expired Diaper Rash Cream? 

You’ve probably used an expired lotion or perfume before. And you are thinking diaper rash cream is not different, right? 

Well, it depends on a few factors. Firstly, you may want to consider how far from the expiry date you are. If the diaper cream expired two months ago, using it might not be such a big deal.

However, if the cream is a few years beyond its expiry date, throwing it out may be a good idea. 

The second thing you want to think about are the other ingredients in the cream. Additives in the diaper rash cream such as aloe and tea tree oil may spoil faster.

It is a good idea to check how the cream looks and smells. If it smells or looks off, it’s probably not good to use anymore.

The last factor to consider before using already expired nappy rash cream is how it had been previously stored. Was the cream left out in hot/cold temperatures or did you ever leave it open?

If the ointment was properly stored, it most likely works just fine. But if not, then it’s advisable to trash it. 

Diaper rash cream is usually a trusty diaper bag companion. If you are like me, you never leave it wherever you go. This might mean it has been out in the sun for long periods. So it might be best to throw out any that’s left unused. 

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Do Zinc-based Ointments Expire?

If you prefer zinc-based creams such as A and D, you may wonder whether A and D ointment expires. The main active ingredient in A and D is zinc oxide.

It’s also mixed with another active component called dimethicone. To complete the product, aloe and essential oils help with itchiness and moisturizing. 

The zinc oxide and dimethicone themselves don’t expire. So in a sense, you can always use them. But it’s important to note that the same is not true for the other parts of the cream.

Essential oils don’t last much after their sell-by date. They will start giving off a funky smell. When that happens, you have to toss out the whole thing. 

Does Aquaphor Expire? 

If you are a fan of petroleum-based nappy creams, then you will probably be asking this question. To answer you, probably not. The active ingredient is the petroleum jelly itself which doesn’t expire. So you may keep using it after the expiry date.

Be that as it may, it can become rancid especially if it was in the sun for long. Also, bacteria can get into the petroleum jelly and start breeding inside. So if the jar had been open, it is not a good idea to keep using it after the expiry date.  

Does Triple Paste Expire?

Triple paste is a favorite diaper rash cream among parents. Just like with majority of butt creams for babies, its main active ingredient is zinc oxide. Triple paste will last up to 5 years from date of manufacture. Remember to store it properly to maintain its effectiveness.

What Happens If You Use Expired Diaper Rash Cream?

Most likely nothing (or a horrible infection). The effects of expired diaper rash cream will differ with the type of cream. Also, the way you have been storing it and how long it is after the expiry affects the outcome.

Time after expiry 

The nearer you are to the expiry date, the less the chances of anything bad happening. The worst-case scenario would be that the cream simply won’t work as it should. In that case, you will have to buy a new bottle. 


If you have been keeping the cream in a cool dry place, then it might still be working just fine. Most expiry dates are just safe estimates. Some products, even medicinal, still work even after their expiry dates. But just in case you may have carried it around, it’s good to play it safe and throw it away.

Type of cream

There are higher chances of Zinc-based ointments working even after they have expired. Though it is important to note that, although zinc oxide does not expire, its chemical properties may change. There is no need to understand all the science, just that it works less and less the longer it stays.

There is always a chance that something may go wrong if you use products past their sell-by date. Here are some of the things that may go wrong if you use expired products.

Skin irritation

You may end up making your little one’s rash even worse. Some of the oils in diaper creams cause skin irritation when they stay too long. This may increase redness and breakouts. 

Does diaper rash cream expire

Bacterial infection 

Petroleum-based products can become a cradle for bacteria. If you use that expired rash cream on a baby’s sensitive skin it might lead to bacterial infections. This may cause bumps, boils, and all sorts of nasty skin problems.


Some diaper creams contain essential oils. Essential oils may become toxic over long periods. If they get into the little one’s blood, they may cause many health problems. So using an out of date nappy cream with essential oils may prove to be bad for the baby’s health.


If you have been asking yourself, does diaper rash cream expire? You’ll be happy to know that it doesn’t really. If it feels, looks, and smells okay it’s probably fine. But you must be careful, expired diaper cream has some potentially dangerous effects. When it comes to your baby, it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If possible, avoid using out of date creams. Rather throw out the old and buy a new ointment.


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