Diaper rash will appear on the skin that sits underneath the diaper. This typically occurs in children that are under two years of age, but can also occur in those that are paralyzed or incontinent. Nearly all babies will experience diaper rash at some point before the age of 3, with a majority of babies experiencing diaper rash somewhere between 9-12 months of age. This is the time when babies still do a great deal of sitting but are starting to move into consuming solid foods which will alter the acidity levels of their bowel movements. Read on to learn how you can treat diaper rash in your baby.
Causes of Diaper Rash
Diaper rash can be caused by a variety of conditions, but there are some that are likely culprits of this irritation
1. Chemical Irritation
Your child may be sensitive because their diaper is rubbing up against their skin. Those that are sensitive to chemicals may find that disposable diapers that contain chemicals or fragrances increase this risk, but some detergents used to wash cloth diapers could cause diaper rash as well. Lotions or powders may also irritate the skin and cause a rash.
2. Moisture and Bacteria
All diapers leave some level of moisture on your child’s skin. If this moisture mixes with bacteria from the stool it can form ammonia which can cause diaper rash. Those that are prone to diarrhea or frequent bowel movements and those that are left for long periods of time without changing are more susceptible to irritation.
Because the area inside the diaper is moist and warm it is easy for bacteria to grow here. This can increase the risk of a yeast infection developing between the folds of your child’s skin which may cause diaper rash.
3. Introduction of New Food
Some children are more prone to diaper rash after they are introduced to new food. Fruit juice or strawberries amongst other foods are known to increase the risk of diaper rash in some children. The increase in bowel movements that comes with starting solid foods can also increase the risk of diaper rash. Some children may develop a rash while breastfeeding if they react poorly to a food their mother has consumed.
Antibiotics could cause yeast infections in a child by reducing the number of healthy bacteria in your child’s system. This can cause an increase in diarrhea which will in turn cause an increase in diaper rash.
Symptoms of Diaper Rash
You may notice that your child appears to be uncomfortable as diaper rash takes hold, particularly when their diaper is changes. Those with a rash may cry or fuss more often as the area where the diaper sits is touched or washed. The skin affected by diaper rash may appear puffy, tender and red. This rash can appear around the genitals, buttocks or thighs.
When to See a Doctor
Diaper rash can usually be treated at home and should improve within a few days of this treatment. However, if home treatments such as increased diaper changes or the application of ointment does not improve the condition you should talk to your doctor to ensure your child does not develop a secondary rash. You should also contact your doctor if the rash is very severe or becomes worse with treatment. Talk to your doctor right away if your child has a fever, weeping discharge or pus, unusual sleepiness, boils, blisters or a rash that extends past the diaper area.
Treatments of Diaper Rash
- If your child is experiencing diaper rash work to keep them clean and dry by changing their diaper more frequently. You may need to wake them in the night for extra changes.
- Be sure to rinse the area beneath the diaper with each change and avoid using wipes with fragrance or that contain alcohol.
- Then pat your child’s skin dry instead of rubbing to avoid further irritation.
- An ointment can provide a protective barrier on the skin that can prevent irritation from urine or stool.
- Petroleum jelly or ointment, lanolin, nonpetroleum jelly or white zinc oxide are all helpful options.
- Allowing your child’s skin to breathe can help cut down on a rash.
- Buy a different brand of disposable diapers if you notice your child gets rashes frequently, or trying buying extra absorbent diapers or those in a larger size to see if this improves their condition.
- Place plastic sheets on the bed and allow them to sleep without a diaper when they have a rash.
- You can also allow them to play outdoors or in a room with a floor that is easy to clean without a diaper.
Watch a video for how to cure diaper rash on a baby:
How to Prevent Diaper Rash
- Diaper rash can be prevented with a bit of extra care. Work to keep your child’s bottom dry with frequent changes or changing the diaper as quickly as possible after it becomes wet.
- With each change work to clean the genital area thoroughly and pat the skin dry. Never rub the skin, as this can cause irritation.
- Children that are prone to diaper rash may benefit from having ointment applied with each diaper change.
- Do not use talcum powder as this is harmful to your child’s lungs. Cornstarch powder can be used if you shake it into your hand away from the child and then gently pat it onto their skin. Keep the container away from your child at all times and make sure powder is not accumulating in the folds of their skin.
- Secure the diaper loosely so air can circulate on their bottom and dress the child in loose fitting clothing. If you use cloth diapers, use detergent for sensitive skin that has no fragrance and avoid using fabric softener.
- Double rinsing the diapers or adding a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle can help to remove residue that could cause irritation. If your child attends daycare make sure their caregivers know what measures are necessary to prevent diaper rash on your baby’s skin.
- Breastfeed for as long as possible to increase your child’s resistance to infection. This cuts down on their need for antibiotics which can cause diaper rash.
- If your child requires antibiotics, ask if they will need a probiotic as well to ensure that a healthy amount of good bacteria will remain in their system.
- When your child moves to solid foods, introduce foods one at a time so you can eliminate foods that cause irritation from their diet.