Zinc Oxide Ointment: More Than Just a Hikers Diaper Rash Cure


Do your thighs get red and inflamed after a long hike? Don’t be embarrassed, we’ve all been there! You don’t have to suffer in silence. You can cure/prevent that painful embarrassing rash with a little bit of zinc oxide in your pack.

What is Zinc Oxide Used For on a Hike?

Experienced backpackers carry Zinc Oxide as a general rash/inflammation ointment(it seriously works). Name brand Desitin Ointment is a hikers best friend. It’s a time tested cure for a wide range of hiking problems. Most hikers use it as a diaper rash and anti-chafing ointment, but it does more than that.

Look For Small Travel Size Tubes

Most hikers prefer the small 1/2oz-1oz travel size tubes that you can find online. That’s more than enough zinc oxide for a short 3-5 day backpacking trip.

Zinc Oxide Cures Hiking Diaper Rash

Every hiker should carry a small tube of Zinc Oxide in their hiking first aid kit. It’s amazing how well zinc oxide actually works. For such a cheap generic ointment(this stuff is cheap) it provides so much relief.

Head down to your local Dollar Tree or Dollar General and find the travel size tube of Desitin. It’s normally like 1$ for the 3oz tube or you could pick up a large container on Amazon(that’s a lot of butt lube).

Within minutes your previously chafed skin and monkey butt(diaper rash) will be magically cured. It’s like a layer of grease that protects your skin without damaging your clothes. It’s way cheaper than name-brand anti-chafe cream and instantly cures the dreaded monkey butt.

How to Apply Zinc Oxide

Application is easy although it’s a little messy. Before your hike take a pea-sized amount on the tip of your finger and rub it between your butt cheeks, thighs, underboob, armpits etc. Anywhere that could potentially rub over the course of a long hike.

Prevention will always be easier than treatment, but it will also treat areas that are already inflamed. Just take a short break and rub it in liberally.

Look For Brands Without Fragrance

Zinc oxide was designed as a baby rash ointment, so most options come with a slight fragrance. Unless you want to attract insects/wildlife, look for one that doesn’t have a fragrance.

There are Downsides to Zinc Oxide

After applying zinc oxide on the trail your fingers will stay white for the rest of the day. The stuff is really hard to get off without access to running water. This is a good thing for the treated area, but seasoned hikers will definitely know what you’ve been up to. It’s also kinda smelly which takes me back to changing dirty diapers.

Other Zinc Oxide Uses on a Hike

Zinc oxide is used primarily as an anti-chafing agent, but it has a wide variety of other uses on a hike. Here are a few of my favorite uses for zinc oxide.

  1. Anti-Chafing(Diaper Rash): This is the primary reason why I carry zinc-oxide(specifically Desitin). It’s by far the best diaper rash preventative treatment on the market. Go with the maximum strength stuff, you won’t regret it.
  2. Poison Ivy/Oak Treatment: One of the best remedies on the market and you should already have it in your first-aid kit.
  3. Unscented Sunscreen: Remember how people in the 80’s always had big blotches of sunscreen on their nose? They were using zinc oxide based sunscreens which are great at blocking the sun without attracting bugs. Only problem is your left with a slight white tint to your skin which shouldn’t be a problem in the backcountry.
  4. Deodorant: Zinc-Oxide helps reduce body odor without attracting wildlife. Maybe it’s not as good as name brand formulas, but you won’t attract mosquitos and insects.
  5. Lip Balm: After a long day in the sun your lips can start to get downright painful. Zinc Oxide helps heal and reduce inflammation on dry chapped lips and other body parts.
  6. Sunburn, Rashes, Allergies and Abrasions: This stuff helps with just about any form of skin inflammation. If you’ve got a skin problem zinc oxide will help.
  7. Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids and are the last thing you want on the trail. Zinc Oxide cures the itching and relieves swelling/redness.
  8. Fire-Starter: It’s a solid fire starter base when used with kindling and dry grass.

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