The Dangers of using Baby Powder

For baby nappy rash, heat rash and intertrigo*, a lot of Sri Lankan parents look to baby powders for prevention and healing. But I would seriously warn against its use. Baby powder can cause breathing trouble, respiratory illnesses and serious lung damage, once babies inhale its particles. Premature babies and those with a history of respiratory problems in the family are especially at risk.

If you have used baby powder, you know that it’s impossible to keep the particles out of the air. Talc-based powders are more prone to cause illnesses because of their easily inhaled particles. If your baby breathes in a lot of talc, it could clog the delicate air sacs in her lungs and rarely even be fatal. Also it doesn’t work on nappy rashes or saliva rash as effectively as a barrier cream.

If you are thinking of using corn starch-based powders, it isn’t all that better either (its particles are bigger but can still cause harm to your baby’s lungs if used liberally). It can also cause further harm to fungal rashes you’re treating, because yeast can metabolize and break down corn starch, and use it as a food source, thereby aggravating the infection further.

So please be careful when using baby powder on your little one. If you must, use it very sparingly and first rub it on your hands before dabbing it on her.


*Intertrigo – Ahalya has this. I posted about it a few weeks ago. It’s an inflammatory condition of skin folds that makes the skin peel and/or turn red, and is caused by heat, moisture, maceration, friction, and lack of air circulation. But she’s okay now.

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