Baby powder is an astringent that may contain talc or corn starch. It is often used to treat diaper rash in babies and other types of rashes. The talcum powder or corn starch in baby powder absorbs excessive moisture and keeps skin dry and soft while also eliminating friction. The talc found in most baby powders is a mineral that comes from the mining of talc rocks that are crushed and milled into a soft, white powder. Baby powder is also known to absorb unpleasant odors in addition to moisture.
Due to its ability to absorb unpleasant odors and excessive moistures, baby powder is often used as an anti-perspirant. It is particularly effective in the underarm area where most perspiring occurs. The pleasant and mild scent of the baby powder also acts as a deodorant. However, baby powder does not work as well as actual anti-perspirants and deodorants that are formulated to specifically stop underarm sweat. Anti-perspirants contain more powerful ingredients to block sweat. Yet, baby powder is still an excellent alternative to anti-perspirants.
In recent years, studies have suggested that talc-containing baby powders are dangerous because talc contains trace amounts of asbestos, a known carcinogen. Studies have also shown that women who used baby powder near their genital area were more likely to develop ovarian cancer. Thus, some people believe that the use of baby powder can lead to several types of cancer including lung cancer in miners of talc. Some experts suggest that use of baby powder should be limited. Alternatively, baby powder containing corn starch poses no health risks.