How to Prevent and Treat a Diaper Rash?
Diaper rashes are itchy and have uncomfortable side effects of diaper wearing. These rashes appear as red scales or an assortment of red skin in the buttocks, thighs, and genital areas of babies. These rashes grow in warm and moist places in the baby’s diaper.
Don’t worry if your baby has diaper rashes, as it is a common type of dermatitis (inflamed skin) that can be easily treated by following simple treatments at home like applying baby diaper rash creams, air drying, or frequent diaper changes, etc.
Keep reading to explore more about causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment of diaper rashes.
Causes of Diaper Rashes
There are many causes of diaper rashes, including allergies, sensitive skin, infection, irritation, antibiotic usage, the introduction of new food, etc. Let’s discuss a few such causes in detail.
Bacterial or Yeast Infection
Diaper rashes may result due to bacterial or yeast infection. These rashes are stubborn and don’t easily go away. In addition, the moistness and warmth within your baby’s diaper serve as an ideal breeding place for yeast and bacterial growth resulting in infection.
The fungus Candida albicans is the yeast responsible for causing diaper rashes. The yeast or bacterial infection begins as a simple skin infection and soon spreads in the nearby area, resulting in reddened skin with red dots or bumps.
The diapers’ rashes due to skin infection are found in skin areas covered by a diaper, including buttocks, genitals, and thighs. These rashes may also appear within the skin creases with scattered dots surrounding the creases.
Irritation Due to Stool and Urine
Diaper rashes may also result from skin irritation caused by the acidity, wetness, and moisture from stool and urine. It is more common in babies suffering from diarrhoea as they experience wet and soiled diapers frequently.
Thus, prolonged exposure to stool or urine irritates the sensitive and soft skin of babies. In addition, if your baby is experiencing frequent bowel movements or diarrhoea, he or she is more prone to have diaper rashes.
Irritation Due to New Product
If you have tried any new product on your baby’s skin, his/her skin may react to it and result in diaper rashes. Thus, be careful and keep a close watch while using new baby wipes or disposable diapers.
Your baby’s skin may also get irritated with other products like a detergent, fabric softener, or bleach used for laundering the baby’s cloth diapers. Some other products that may irritate sensitive baby’s skin include ingredients found in baby oils, lotions, and powders.
If you are administering any antibiotics to your baby, it may leave your baby with diaper rashes. Also, breastfeeding mothers who are taking antibiotics expose their babies to increased risks of diaper rash.
The antibiotics not only kill bacteria but also harm good bacteria. The depletion of good bacteria that keep the yeast population in check results in excessive yeast growth. Thus, your baby may get diaper rashes due to yeast infection.
Another drawback of antibiotics is that it increases the risk of diarrhoea in babies and makes them vulnerable to diaper rashes.
If your baby is allergic to baby washes, clothing, or baby wipes, his/her sensitive skin may get irritated due to dyes, perfumes, or soaps in diapers. The allergic reaction presents itself in the form of diaper rashes. It is commonly found in babies who try new products.
Introduction of New Solid Foods
As babies grow, they begin to eat solid foods, resulting in changes in their stool content. As a result, it puts them at high risk of diaper rashes. Moreover, the baby’s diet changes may increase the frequency of stools resulting in diaper rashes.
In case you are breastfeeding your baby and have eaten something new or changed your diet, it may result in diaper rashes.
If your baby suffers from skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis (eczema) or atopic dermatitis, he/she is more likely to experience diaper rashes. In such cases, your baby may have irritated skin areas other than the diaper areas.
If your baby is wearing a tight-fitting diaper or clothing, he/she may develop diapers due to chafing or rubbing of diapers against the soft skin in the thigh, bottom, or genital areas.
Symptoms of Diaper Rashes
Check for the following symptoms in your baby to confirm if he/she is experiencing diaper rashes.
- Red and tender looking skin in the genitals, thighs, and buttocks
- The baby gets increasingly uncomfortable and sensitive to diaper changes
- Baby fusses and often cries whenever you touch, wash, and clean the diaper area
Even though the diaper rashes may appear reddish and painful, these don’t trouble your baby unless the rashes become infected. In such cases, you need to see your child’s paediatrician.
Symptoms of Infected Diaper Rashes Include the Following
- Redness in the diaper area
- Blisters on the diaper area
- Swelling of the thighs, buttocks, or genital region
- Pus or discharge draining from the diaper area
- Stubborn rashes that don’t go away quickly and may worsen even after treatment
In some cases, the infected diaper rashes may worsen into Candidiasis, a secondary yeast or fungal infection that looks raw and bright red.
The infected diaper rashes may develop into satellite lesions that are found in the skin creases with reddish spots on the thighs and abdomen outside the diaper area.
If you observe the above symptoms, call or visit your doctor for a diagnosis. Your doctor may prescribe the appropriate treatment for treating such fungal diaper rashes.
How to Prevent and Treat Diaper Rashes
You can prevent and treat the diaper rashes developing on your soft baby’s skin by following the below-mentioned simple strategies at home.
Keep the Diaper Area Clean and Dry
Ensure to keep the baby’s diaper area clean and dry. Also, check if the baby feels comfortable in the diaper and it is not wrapped tightly. Lay down your baby on a towel when he/she isn’t wearing a diaper.
Keep your baby without a diaper for at least some time during the day. This is to maintain the required dryness in the diaper area. While changing your baby’s diaper, ensure to clean the area gently by using a soft cloth or baby wipe.
When you clean the baby’s diaper area, ensure not to rub or scrub the skin too hard. Also, don’t use wipes with alcohol; and instead, use a soap-free cleanser or mild soap while bathing your baby.
Change Your Baby’s Diaper Frequently
If your baby is experiencing diaper rash, be careful while changing the diapers. Make sure to change the diapers frequently and promptly remove the soiled or wet diapers. If you keep your child in child care, request the staff members to change the diapers often.
Use Creams and Jellies
Apply creams and jellies containing zinc on the diaper area for soothing the skin and avoiding contact with irritants like faeces, urine, etc. Apply a thin layer of cream that prevents the urine or stool from touching your baby’s skin.
You can also apply jellies like vaseline that contain fewer perfumes or dyes on the diaper area. However, jellies don’t make a stronger barrier as compared to creams. Moreover, jellies get stuck to the cloth diapers and prove hard to wash.
Rinse Baby’s Bottom With Warm Water
Whenever you change your baby’s diaper, ensure to rinse the baby’s bottom with warm water. Use a sink or bathtub for doing so. Next, gently clean the diaper area by using baby wipes, cotton balls, and moist clothes.
Ensure to avoid fragrant wipes and wipes with alcohol. If you are using soap for cleaning the baby’s bottom, use a mild and fragrance-free soap for cleaning. Prefer to use superabsorbent disposable diapers that help to keep the baby’s skin dry for longer.
Once you have cleaned the cloth diapers, ensure to remove all the soap by rinsing at least two to three times. This helps to prevent diaper rashes in babies who are allergic to detergents or sensitive to their fragrances.
Avoid Scrubbing Your Baby’s Bottom
Make sure to pat the skin dry by using a clean towel gently. Avoid scrubbing the baby’s bottom as it may irritate the skin further.
Don’t Wrap the Diapers Tightly
Ensure that your baby is not wearing over tightened diapers as it may obstruct the airflow into the diaper area and create a moist environment favourable to diaper rashes. Moreover, tight diapers may also result in chafing at the waist or thighs.
Regularly Apply Ointment During the Diaper Change
If your baby experiences diaper rashes frequently, you may apply a barrier ointment for preventing skin irritation during each diaper change. Some commonly used diaper ointments include petroleum jelly and zinc oxide.
Keep Hand Hygiene After Changing Diapers
Ensure to wash your hands thoroughly after changing the diapers as it helps in preventing the spread of yeast or bacteria to other parts of the baby’s body
Avoid Toxic or Harmful Medicated Ointments
Don’t use potentially toxic or harmful medicated ointments that contain ingredients like
salicylates, benzocaine, and camphor, as they may further worsen the symptoms of diaper rashes.
Prescription Treatments for Persistent Diaper Rashes
Your baby’s doctor may prescribe targeted topical ointments if there is a presence of bacterial or fungal infected diaper rashes. Some common prescription treatments for getting rid of persistent diaper rashes include the following:
- Topical antibiotics
- Antifungal cream
- Hydrocortisone cream
In some severe cases, doctors may also prescribe oral antibiotics. However, only use prescription medications or consult your doctor before applying any OTC hydrocortisone or topical antibiotics to your baby’s diaper rash.