As a pediatrician, I often hear that my newest patients are suffering from diaper rash. Fear not, parents –– though it’s never fun to see your baby uncomfortable, diaper rash is common and easily treatable. Read on to learn what causes diaper rash and what you can do to treat and prevent it.
Simply put, diaper rash is a skin irritation. It’s most common in babies from about 3 weeks to about 1 year old but it can happen at any time a diaper is worn. It causes redness on areas of the skin that come into contact with a diaper and it can be uncomfortable for your baby.
Diaper rash has a few common causes:
Babies will soil diapers about every 3-4 hours. Make sure they aren’t sitting in a dirty diaper longer than necessary. When your baby has diaper rash, be vigilant about diaper changing. They may need their diaper changed more frequently.
When you change your baby’s diaper, make sure you don’t use wipes that contain fragrance or alcohol, which can dry and irritate skin. You can also cleanse the skin with water and a gentle cleanser (soap free!). Use a soft cloth to pat dry (don’t rub!) or air dry.
If you use disposable diapers, look for absorbent diapers that will keep skin drier longer. If you use cloth diapers, change diapers frequently and make sure you wash them with in mild, baby-safe detergents. Rubber pants over diapers can promote a hot, moist environment, which can irritate skin.
Lastly, don’t secure your baby’s diaper too tightly, especially overnight when your child may be wearing the diaper a little longer. When your baby’s diaper is too tight, it can cause chafing.
You can use pastes or jellies to soothe irritated skin and prevent urine or feces from coming into contact with your baby’s skin. The brand isn’t important but I tell parents to look for products that contain zinc oxide or petrolatum and are fragrance free.
If the baby’s diaper area is irritated, a daily bath can help remove debris, irritants and even bacteria. Make sure to use a mild or soap-free cleanser.
A little time without a diaper can help. Put your baby on a dry, soft towel for a few minutes.
Although diaper rash can be uncomfortable for your baby, it generally will go away within a few days. You should call your pediatrician if the rash looks infected. Symptoms of infection include:
If the diaper rash is severe or has developed into a fungal or yeast infection, your pediatrician may prescribe an antifungal cream or cream with steroids.
As always, check in with your pediatrician with any question about your child’s well-being.