How Safe Is Baby Talcum Powder: 5 Essential Things To Know

With the news of lawsuits being passed against the Johnson and Johnson baby powder (for using a cancer-causing ingredient in their product) doing rounds, mothers are apprehensive about using talcum powders for their babies.
With every drugstore having different brands of baby talcum powder stacked on their shelves, it becomes really confusing if they should be bought at all—it is worth risking a dangerous condition?

Here is what moms should know about baby talcum powders.

1. What Is Talcum Powder Composed Of?

Talcum powder is made of a substance called talc. Talc is a mineral, which primarily constitutes of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Naturally, talcum powder does consist of some amount of asbestos—a substance that is known to cause cancer. There are two types of tac—the one that contains asbestos and asbestos-free talc. However, its safety still remains under doubt.

2. What Are The Uses Of Talcum Powder?

The most obvious use is to keep the baby’s skin dry, especially in the diaper area to prevent rashes. Some women also apply talcum powder on their face to look fairer. Talcum powder is also a part

of many cosmetics. Many women also apply it on genital areas, which has been associated with the increase in the risk of ovarian cancer.

3. How Far Can Talcum Powder Prevent Rashes? What Are The Alternatives?

To some extent, talcum powder could prevent heat rashes, but some doctors believe that they could clog pores in the skin. Babies could even develop a rash out of an allergic reaction from the talcum powders, and who knows if they are clinically tested to be as safe as they claim to be.

There are other ways to soothe rashes.

  • Add some oatmeal in your baby’s bathtub in lukewarm water and let their skin get exposed to the solution for several minutes. This can help reduce rashes and soothe the skin.
  • Go natural and use Aloe Vera plant—cut a piece out of the stem and apply it fresh onto the rashes. It helps prevent bacterial infections and gives a cool feeling on the skin.

4. Does Talcum Powder Cause Cancer?

Several complaints were filed against Johnson and Johnson company by women who developed high risks of ovarian cancer after regularly applying

their talcum powder in the genital area. Many filed a lawsuit against the company. Scientists who confirmed the risks associated with the use of talcum powder confirmed finding particles of talc in the ovarian and cervical tumors of the patients.1

Talcum powder was also an increase in epithelial ovarian cancer in African-American women by 44% who used the powder in their genital area.2

Though Johnson & Johnson paid for the damage, it still claims that the product was safe and the research was flawed.

Inhaling talcum powder could cause irritation in the respiratory system. Premature babies and those with asthma have a higher risk of developing respiratory


It should be known that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has termed talcum powder as carcinogenic (cancer-causing) to humans.

5. Does Your Baby Really Need Talcum Powder?

Talcum powder definitely isn’t a necessity. There are other ways to prevent rashes. Make sure your baby stays dry—don’t keep the diaper for longer hours. If they have developed rashes, don’t wrap your baby—let them stay without a diaper for some time. The rashes will dry and disappear on their own.
For preventing heat rashes, make your baby wear cotton clothes in summers. Wash and gently, pat dry try your baby’s little bum.

Corn- starch powders are also available in the market as an alternative to talcum powders. However, they can also create respiratory issues on inhalation.

If the rashes on your baby’s skin aren’t receding, consult a pediatrician as soon as possible. Rashes could even be mistaken for a skin condition like eczema.