Diaper rash is a common type of dermatitis (skin irritation) that affects the area of skin that a diaper would cover. Diaper rash frequently affects babies. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half of all babies (ages 9 to 12 months) will experience diaper rash during their first two months of life.
So, today we’ll go over the symptoms, causes, and treatments for all the worried new parents out there.
Common symptoms of diaper rash include:
- Redness and bumps in the folds of your baby’s upper thighs and bottom
- Peeling, flaking, or scaly skin around your baby’s diaper area
- The affected areas may feel warm when touched
- Your baby appears irritable, fussy, or hard to console.
Here are five of the most common causes of diaper rash.
1. Dirty diapers
Generally, most diaper rashes are caused by prolonged exposure to dirty diapers.
The enzymes in your baby’s feces can irritate his or her sensitive bottom, making your little one more susceptible to diaper rash. Urine, on the other hand, when broken down, releases ammonia, which can damage tissue or skin – resulting in diaper rash. Ammonia may also cause your baby’s skin pH to rise to an alkaline level. If feces is present then, this will cause the enzymes in your baby’s feces to become more active, hastening the onset of diaper rash.
Diaper rash may also occur when your baby’s soft skin folds chafe or rub against each other, clothing, or his or her diaper. This is because the friction from chafing or rubbing weakens the skin’s protective barrier. Furthermore, moist skin is said to be more vulnerable to friction than dry skin, making your baby’s diaper area more susceptible to diaper rash.
Although there’s no way of telling for sure which one, certain dyes, products, or materials used in disposable diapers may irritate your baby’s sensitive skin, causing diaper rash. As for cloth diapers, some babies’ skin may be sensitive to the detergents, bleach, or fabric softeners used in their laundering. Other irritants that can add to the problem may be found in the ingredients of certain baby wipes, lotions, powders, and oils.
4. Diet changes
Food changes in your baby’s diet can also cause diaper rash. How? When babies begin to eat solid foods, for example, the content and frequency of their feces will increase. Frequent bowel movements will increase the likelihood of dirty diapers, which we already know, cause diaper rash.
NOTE: Mommies, if you’re breastfeeding, it is important to know that the foods you eat could also have an effect on your baby’s feces.
Diaper rash can also be caused by antibiotics. This is because antibiotics, unfortunately, kill both the good and bad bacteria in the body. This can cause your baby’s body to lose good bacteria, which can prevent a yeast skin infection – the cause of a more severe case of diaper rash. Hence, diaper rash may occur if your baby is taking antibiotics or if you’re taking antibiotics and exclusively breastfeeding.
If your baby is in diapers, he or she is likely to develop diaper rash at some point. But, fear not, mommies and daddies, as most cases of diaper rash can be successfully treated at home with these practices:
- Give your baby a fresh diaper every two hours or so.
- Change your baby’s wet or dirty diapers as quickly as possible.
- Gently clean your baby’s diaper area with warm water or baby wipes during each diaper change.
- Soak your baby’s bottom in warm water between diaper changes every now and then.
- Gently pat your baby’s skin with a soft cloth or let it air dry completely before putting on another pair of diaper pants.
- Make sure your baby’s diapers are properly fitted, not too tight or too loose.
- Avoid putting your baby in clothes that rub against his or her skin.
- Let your baby go without a diaper for a few hours each day.
- Apply a THICK layer of diaper rash cream or ointment that contains petroleum jelly or zinc oxide, or an earth mama diaper balm, to your baby’s cleaned and dried bottom before putting on a new diaper. (NOTE: Consult your baby’s pediatrician before using any diaper rash cream, ointment, or balm.)
For babies with sensitive skin:
- Look for diapers that are free of dyes or fragrances.
- Instead of baby wipes, clean your child’s bottom with water and a clean washcloth.
- If you prefer baby wipes, look for those that are free of alcohol and fragrances.
For washing cloth diapers:
- Check and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
- Only use detergents in the amounts recommended.
- Avoid the use of fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
- Run an extra rinse cycle after washing the diaper (to remove traces of detergent that may act as irritants).
The steps for treating and preventing diaper rash are very similar. So, if you want to prevent diaper rash, you can adopt the above practices.
DIAPER CHANGING TIP: As you’ll need to change your baby’s diapers frequently, it’s best to have a diaper bag, like our ju ju be diaper bag, to keep all of your baby’s diaper-changing essentials in one place.
Diaper rash is usually treatable at home. However, you’ll need a medical prescription to treat them if you notice any of these additional symptoms:
- The diaper rash is severe or unusual
- They worsen despite home treatment
- The diaper rash is accompanied by fever
- The rash bleeds, itches, or oozes
- Blisters or swelling on your baby’s diaper area
Some diaper rash may also develop into a secondary yeast infection. Symptoms include:
- A red, swollen rash with white scales and lesions
- Small red pimples outside your baby’s diaper area
- Redness in the folds of your baby’s skin
Check with your baby’s pediatrician if you notice any of the symptoms listed above. Depending on what type of rash your baby has, your baby’s pediatrician may do one of the following:
- Prescribe an antifungal or antibiotic cream
- Recommend changes to your baby’s diapering routine
- Prescribe a mild steroid cream for a few days until the rash clears