Vitamin A creams and lotions for nappy (diaper) rash

There is not enough evidence to support the use of vitamin A to treat nappy rash. Nappy or diaper rash is a term used to describe inflammation in babies' napkin area. Whilst nappy rash does not make babies very sick, it is very common and it causes varying levels of discomfort to infants and concern to parents. Ointments that contain vitamin A have been suggested as possible treatments for napkin rash. Our review found that there is not enough evidence to say whether vitamin A is effective for treating or preventing napkin rash; more research is needed. One small trial found that applying vitamin A in the first three months of life did not prevent napkin rash.

Authors' conclusions: 

For the treatment of napkin dermatitis there is no evidence to support or refute the use of topical vitamin A preparations. For the prevention of napkin dermatitis there is no evidence to suggest that topical vitamin A alters the development of napkin dermatitis. Further RCTs are required to determine whether topical vitamin A is efficacious in treating or preventing napkin dermatitis.

Read the full abstract...

Napkin dermatitis (nappy or diaper rash) is a non-specific term used to describe inflammatory eruptions (rashes) in the napkin area. Most infants develop napkin dermatitis at least once during their infancy. Topical vitamin A has been suggested as a treatment for napkin dermatitis.


To determine if treatment with topical vitamin A is successful in either preventing napkin dermatitis, or producing resolution or decreasing the severity of napkin dermatitis.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Skin Group Specialised Register (May 2005); Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library Issue 3, 2005); Ovid MEDLINE from 1966 to August 2005; EMBASE (2003 to May 2005); Ovid OLDMEDLINE (1950 to 1965); and CINAHL (1982 to August 2005). We also searched reference lists of articles.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials, where the topical application of medication containing vitamin A (or its derivatives) was compared with either placebo, no treatment or other topical medication, for the prevention or treatment of napkin dermatitis in infants aged from zero to two years.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two authors (AJD and MWD) identified and checked titles and abstracts obtained from the searches, and reviewed the full text where necessary. They decided which trials met the inclusion criteria, and recorded their methodological quality. They assessed studies as either adequate, unclear or inadequate using the following key criteria: (a) randomisation (method of generation and concealment of allocation); (b) blinding; (c) loss to follow up.

Main results: 

We did not find any studies for the treatment of napkin dermatitis. We found only one study comparing the use of topical application of medication containing vitamin A, with another topical medication or placebo, to prevent napkin dermatitis. This included study, of 114 newborn infants, reported no significant differences between groups with regard to the severity or duration of napkin dermatitis.