Just like we associate certain food smells and tastes with childhood and nostalgia, fragrances from baby products trigger those same feelings. This is why, despite the fact that fragrances in baby creams, shampoos and diapers are unnecessary, they still “sell” and you will find them in most products.
In most cases, these fragrances are okay. However, the fact remains that we do not know enough about allergies to tell us what can be used without risk of causing long term eczema and contact dermatitis. It seems that even the companies that manufacture these products don’t know enough, and this is bad.
The most offensive example I have found is Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. The name (butt paste) tells you that it is plain and simple, the smell is sweet and homey. The ingredient list is short and to the point:
Active Ingredients: Zinc Oxide 16% (skin protectant)
Inactive Ingredients: Castor oil, mineral oil, paraffin, Peruvian balsam, petrolatum
What’s wrong with this list? Peruvian balsam is an inexpensive fragrance additive that is known to be allergenic.
Read the following excerpt from Wikipedia: “A number of surveys have identified Balsam of Peru as being in the ‘top five’ allergens most commonly causing patch test reactions in people referred to dermatology clinics. It may cause inflammation, redness, swelling, soreness, itching, and blisters, including allergic contact dermatitis, stomatitis (inflammation and soreness of the mouth or tongue), cheilitis (inflammation, rash, or painful erosion of the lips, oropharyngeal mucosa, or angles of their mouth), pruritis, hand eczema, generalized or resistant plantar dermatitis, rhinitis, and conjunctivitis.”
Remember that you don’t know enough about the immune system of your child. If there are “allergy genes” in the family you must be extra careful. In general, occlusion by the diaper can raise the potential for contact dermatitis from topical skin care products because it increases penetration of potential allergens.
In short, the marketing tactics of the diaper and diaper cream companies are harmless for maybe 90% of the baby population, but hurtful to the remaining 10%.
I think 10% is too much, especially when the whole of my family is included!
At Skin Actives, we have no products dedicated to babies and children, but at home I use Dream Cream, Rosehip Seed Oil and Every Lipid Serum. Even Dream Cream (no fragrance at all) can be too much when eczema is flaring up, but ELS and Rosehip Oil can be used at any time.
Instead of a perfumed diaper rash cream, use petrolatum, which will replace the natural skin barrier when it is damaged by diaper rash. Don’t play with fragrances, especially when they come with explicit allergy inducing credentials!
-Dr. Hannah Sivak