Calamine Lotion for Babies: Uses, Safety And Side Effects

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Calamine lotion is a popular skin lotion used across all age groups. The topical lotion has been available as an over-the-counter medicine for decades. The anti-itch and cooling properties make it a widely used skincare product  But is it safe to use calamine lotion for babies? In this MomJunction post, we tell you

Calamine lotion for babies is a popular over-the-counter product for relieving symptoms of several skin ailments. The lotion is known for its anti-itch properties and cooling effect on topical application (1). Many parents turn to calamine lotion to manage simple skin problems in infants.

Read this post to know the safety, potential uses, possible side effects, and precautionary measures for the use of calamine lotion in babies.

In This Article

Is Calamine Lotion Safe For Babies?

Calamine lotion can be safely used for skin problems in babies

Image: Shutterstock

Calamine lotion can be safely used for relief from skin irritation and other skin problems in babies. The lotion also has astringentiXA property of a substance that helps in removing excess oils and tightening pores properties, which constrict skin tissue to help provide the baby relief from skin inflammation.

Although calamine lotion is considered suitable for use among babies, it is important to consult the pediatrician before use.

Uses Of Calamine Lotion For Infants

The following are the possible conditions where calamine lotion might be useful. However, do not use them without consulting the doctor.

1. Oily skin

Calamine lotion helps manage excessively oily skin owing to its mild drying action on the skin and yet moisturise the skin (2).

2. Pruritus

Pruritus is skin itchiness, which might be localized or generalized. It might happen due to skin reactions or due to systemic disorders. Calamine lotion helps in reducing itchiness owing to its cooling effect (2).

3. Heat rash

Calamine lotion has a cooling effect on heat rashes

Image: Shutterstock

Heat rash is characterized by fine, pink-colored skin rashes caused due to overheating. Calamine lotion has a cooling effect on the skin and helps relieve the prickly feeling (3).

4. Sunburn

It helps heal the skin irritated by sunburns (4).

5. Poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac

All these plants release an oily sap containing a compound called urushiol, which on contact with skin causes severe itchy rashes and blistersiXPainful swelling (or bubble) on the skin's outer layer, containing fluid-filled cavities . Though babies may not directly come in contact with poison ivy, adults, older children or even pets may sometimes become the carriers. Calamine lotion could help soothe skin affected by urushiol (5).

6. Miliaria

Miliaria is a severe form of heat rash and is often seen on skin folds and parts of the head, neck, and upper chest. It is caused due to blocked sweat glands. Calamine lotion can help provide relief from miliaria (6).

7. Insect bite

Calamine lotion helps in soothing insect bites

Image: Shutterstock

Calamine lotion helps in soothing and coating the skin that is irritated due to insect bite (7).

8. Chickenpox blisters

Chickenpox blisters not only cause itching and discomfort, but they may stay even after the illness is gone. The topical application of calamine lotion clears chickenpox blisters and provides relief (8).

9. Scabies

Scabies causes intense itchiness and skin irritation due to rashes. Calamine lotion can be used to reduce itchiness (9).

10. Eczema

Zinc is a component of calamine lotion and could help relieve eczemaiXA common skin condition characterized by itchy, red, and dry skin , which is also known as atopic dermatitis (10).

11. Hives

Hives cause severe skin irritation, which can be soothed through calamine lotion (11).

12. Psoriasis

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends calamine lotion to treat itchiness caused by psoriasisiXA chronic, proliferative, inflammatory skin disease that causes skin dryness and itchiness  (12).

13. Shingles

The blisters caused by shingles burn and are painful. They might also crack open and bleed. Calamine lotion acts as an itch medication for the irritated skin (13).

14. Hand, foot, and mouth disease

Babies affected by hand, foot, and mouth disease develop itchy blisters all over their bodies. Calamine lotion can help in imparting coolness to the skin and reduce itchiness (14).

15. General skin irritation

Calamine lotion can be useful for relief from general skin irritation (15).

Some people use calamine lotion for the treatment and management of cradle cap and  diaper rash in babies. However, there is not enough medical evidence to substantiate its use. Seek medical help if you see a skin rash worsening or increasing in number.

protip_icon Quick tip
It is preferable to clean the skin with soap and water and dry it thoroughly before applying calamine lotion (16).

How To Use Calamine Lotion For Babies?

Consider the following points while using calamine lotion for your baby (16).

  • Read all the drug information on the label carefully.
  • Shake the bottle of calamine lotion well before use.
  • Wash and dry the affected area before applying the lotion each time.
  • Use a cotton ball, face cloth, or pad to apply a thin film of the lotion evenly.
  • Allow the medicine to dry up. You may put mittens on the baby’s hands to avoid them from rubbing the lotion off.
  • Apply a generous amount of lotion on the affected skin two to three times daily.
  •  If you miss a dose, apply as soon as you remember or apply the next scheduled dose.

protip_icon Quick fact
When calamine lotion is applied to the skin, its aqueous component evaporates using the heat from the body. This creates a cooling effect that soothes the skin (19).

The doctor will tell you about the quantity of calamine lotion that you need to apply to your baby. Follow all the instructions stated by the doctor, including the time to apply the lotion.

Possible Side Effects Of Calamine Lotion For Babies

Ingestion of calamine may cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

Image: Shutterstock

Calamine lotion is a commonly used agent and is usually well-tolerated by babies. However, you should discontinue its use and contact a doctor if the baby displays the following skin signs after the use of calamine lotion (1).

Always keep the bottle of lotion out of the baby’s reach. Do not panic if your baby accidentally ingests calamine lotion. Wipe the baby’s mouth gently and offer them some water to drink if they have accidentally licked a bit of the lotion. Ingestion of calamine might cause minor symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea (17). However, if the baby has consumed a large quantity or symptoms persist, then promptly take your baby to the doctor.

protip_icon Be watchful
If the calamine lotion gets into your baby’s eyes, rinse their eyes with lukewarm water and consult a doctor (20).

Precautions To Take While Using Calamine

Keep the lotion away from eyes, nose, mouth, and genitals of babies

Image: Shutterstock

Calamine is usually safe to use. However, take the following precautions to avoid any side effects of calamine lotion (16).

  • Do not use calamine without consulting the doctor
  •  It is for external use only
  • Keep it away from eyes, nose, mouth, genitals, and mucus membranes
  • Do not apply on severely injured skin, open wounds, or oozing wounds
  • Always check for the product expiry date before use
  • Do a small skin patch test before applying the lotion generously to the entire body
  • Discontinue the use of lotion if the rash appears
  • Always keep it away from the child’s reach
  • Follow the instructions on the label

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is calamine lotion poisonous to babies?

No, calamine lotion is not poisonous to babies as all of its contents are non-toxic, including zinc oxide. In case of accidental ingestion, they may develop an upset stomach, but it usually self-resolves (18).

2. Can I put calamine lotion on my baby’s face?

Yes, you can put calamine lotion on a baby’s face as directed by your doctor. However, ensure it does not enter their eyes, nostrils, ears, or mouth.

You will find calamine lotion in almost every household as it has a soothing effect on itchy and irritated skin. It effectively improves oily skin and relieves itchiness, sunburn, prickly heat, and other rashes and blisters. Using calamine lotion for babies is usually considered safe for various skin problems. However, it is best to use it after consulting a doctor since babies have soft and sensitive skin. Avoid usage if you observe blood or pus from the rashes or suspect the skin problem to be an allergic reaction.

Infographic: Do All Calamine Lotions Have The Same Ingredients?

Calamine lotion of all brands has a standard set of ingredients. However, some may have additional ingredients that may not be suitable for a baby’s skin. The infographic below explains the activity of the basic or general ingredients in calamine lotion and lists those that may not be suitable for babies.

understanding the ingredients of calamine lotions for babies (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Calamine lotion may be used to treat heat rashes, pruritis, sunburns, insect bites, etc., in babies.
  • Skin redness, rashes, hives, and pus discharge are a few possible side effects of calamine lotion.
  • Stop using the lotion if any rashes appear on the baby’s body.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
2.Calamine lotion; WHO Model Prescribing Information: Drugs Used in Skin Diseases
3. Heat Rash; Seattle Children’s Organization
4. Calamine Lotion BP; Datapharm
5. CALAMINE- calamine 8% and zinc oxide 8% lotion; U.S. NATIONAL LIBRARY OF MEDICINE
6. RASHES IN INFANTS; Health Sciences Library Upstate Medical University
7. Insect bite first aid and prevention; University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics
8. Chickenpox; Stanford Children’s Health
9. Neonatal rash; Australian Family Physician
10. Mrinal Gupta et al.; Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review; US National Library of Medicine
12. MANAGING ITCH; The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF)
14. Roopashri-Rajesh Kashyap and Rajesh-Shanker Kashyap, Hand, foot and mouth disease – a short case report; US National Library of Medicine
15. Calamine Lotion to Reduce Skin Irritation in Children with Cast Immobilisation; Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery
16. Calamine lotion; DailyMed
17. Calamine Lotion; Missouri Poison Center
18. Calamine lotion; The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
19. Calamine lotion; Journal of Skin and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
20. Calamine Lotion; Missouri Poison Center
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