Diaper rash: How to prevent it and treat your baby's bum

Diaper rash can make the changing table a bad place for your baby if he has a recurrent diaper rash. While diaper rash is almost a certainty, it doesn’t have to be a constant with a little vigilance and precaution. Photo: Carolien Dekeersmaeker

SILVER SPRING, Md, August 17, 2012 – Among the myriad of problems that can crop up in the daily care of an infant, diaper rash is a common one. Diaper rash can be uncomfortable for a little one, and mom.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that 25% of all children develop bad enough diaper rash that their parents seek medical treatment.

Diaper rash can range from mild to severe and can develop for a few reasons, but the prime cause is moisture next to the skin for prolonged periods of time. It is most common after baby has begun eating solid foods and starts to undergo changes in the digestive process and in babies who make frequent bowl movements or who have diarrhea.  

There are a variety of ointments with most having a zinc oxide base.  (product inclusion does not mean endorsement) Click to enlarge

There are a variety of ointments with most having a zinc oxide base. (product inclusion does not mean endorsement) Click to enlarge

Also, if your baby has sensitive skin diaper rash can be a constant problem. The chemicals and gels in disposable diapers can irritate and in some babies can cause chronic diaper rash. 

But there are some easy ways to treat and help prevent diaper rash.

First rinse the affected area with warm water and mild soap. This helps clean the area of any irritant and helps reduce the additional irritation that wiping can produce. Try to use soap only after a bowl movement to reduce any drying effect that the soap may have on the skin.  Of course, choose a very mild, non drying skin free of perfumes or dyes.

After you have cleaned the irritated area, allow you baby to air dry. If possible let your child go without a diaper for short periods of time between changes to increase air circulation. Since one of the main culprits of diaper rash is continual moisture against the skin, letting your baby’s bottom air dry helps reduce the potential for irritation.

Applying a thick layer of diaper ointment can provide a barrier between your baby’s skin and the irritants that cause diaper rash. Diaper ointments that contain zinc oxide are generally recommended, although petroleum jellies also work well. 

Change your baby’s diaper frequently even if he isn’t complaining. Since sitting in a wet or dirty diaper is the cause of diaper rash, decreasing the time he has a wet or dirty bum decreases the occurrence and severity of diaper rash. If your little one isn’t particularly fussy about his diaper, set a schedule for yourself to ensure that you are changing the diaper frequently.

Before and after sleep and a half hour after bottles or meals is a good rule of thumb. Of course, if you notice that your child is soiling himself change the diaper as soon as he finishes.

If you’ve been following these steps and your little one’s bottom is still red, evaluate your diapering and cleaning products. With children particularly prone to diaper rash, try wipes designed for sensitive skin and make sure they are fragrance free.  If changing wipes does not seem to help, try water and a soft wash cloth.

Cloth diapers are very different these days often employing an outer shell with insert.  (Product placement does not mean endorsement) Click to enlarge.

Cloth diapers are very different these days often employing an outer shell with insert. (Product placement does not mean endorsement) Click to enlarge.

 

The down side it the need to have a large number of wash cloths on hand to ensure a clean diapering routine and prevent the spread of infection that can come from using wash clothes that have come into contact with fecal matter and not been sufficiently cleaned. If using cloth wipes and water, make sure you launder them frequently and use a fresh, clean cloth at every change.

If you little one is developing diaper rash because he saturates his diapers too quickly, consider ones that are extra absorbent. However, if you have determined it’s the gel or other filler used in the disposable diapers that is causing a skin reaction, try either a diaper made especially for sensitive skin or cloth diapers. Cloth diapers tend to breath better and allow more air flow that the disposable kind.

Call you doctor if your baby’s diaper rash does not clear within a few days, becomes worse or starts to bleed.  Not all diaper rash is simply caused by moisture, chemical irritation or chaffing. Some diaper rash is caused by yeast, which causes a fungal infection. When a person is healthy, the good bacteria keep the system in balance. But if the immune system is out of wack the yeast can gain the upper hand.  Yeast diaper rash is common in babies who have recently been through a course of antibiotics or nursing babies whose mothers have recently been on antibiotics.  Also, regular diaper rash can lead to a yeast diaper rash. Once the skin is damaged yeast expelled in fecal matter can get into the skin.

Yeast infections usually are more severe than standard diaper rash.  The skin becomes redder and the rash can be raised.  A more sever rash can have infected bumps and can even bleed.  If a diaper rash bleeds or appears infected it is important to contact your pediatrician. While yeast rashes can be severe and painful for your baby, they are easily treated with anti-fungal creams. Most of these creams are available over-the-counter, and with proper treatment yeast rashes can clear completely in a week or less. 

If your little one develops a yeast diaper rash and is wearing cloth diapers, you must ensure that you kill the fungus in the diaper before reusing them.  To do so, wash with bleach and water hotter than 122° F as standard washing and detergent is not enough to kill the fungus that causes the infection, and the common practice of sun-drying diapers will not kill the fungus either.

If plagued by recurrent diaper rash the changing table becomes a bad place for your baby. While diaper rash is almost a certainty, it doesn’t have to be a constant with a little vigilance and precaution.

 

Follow Brighid on Twitter at @BrighidMoret and receive updates when new columns post on Facebook. Read more about first time parenting issues in Parenting the First Time Through at The Communities at The Washington Times.

 

 

 


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Brighid Moret

Brighid is a freelance writer and first time mother.  She holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University.  Find her on Facebook @Brighid Moret

 

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