Diaper rash is redness and rash on a baby’s bottom or genital area. Diaper rash can be caused by wet diapers that are not changed quickly enough. Normally, diaper rash can be treated easily and at home.
Diaper rash usually causes mild redness and scaling where the diaper touches your baby's skin. In bad cases, the rash can cause pimples, blisters and other sores on your baby’s buttocks, thighs or genital area. If the rash gets infected, it may become bright red and the skin may get swollen. Small red patches or spots may spread beyond the main part of the rash, even outside the diaper area.
Most diaper rashes are caused by skin irritation. Irritation can be caused by diapers that rub against the skin or fit too tightly. Irritation can also occur if your baby is left in a wet or dirty diaper for a long period of time. Your baby's skin can also be irritated by the soap used to wash cloth diapers, or by some brands of disposable diapers or baby wipes.
Plastic pants that fit over diapers raise the temperature and moisture in the diaper area. Heat and moisture make it easier for diaper rash to start and for germs to grow.
Diaper rash can also develop while the baby is on antibiotics (or if the mother is on antibiotics while breastfeeding).
The key to preventing and treating diaper rash is to keep your baby's diaper area clean, cool and dry.
Change your baby's diaper often, and let him or her go without a diaper when possible to let the air dry his or her skin.
Try placing your baby on an open cloth diaper during nap time. Check the diaper shortly after your baby falls asleep and replace it if it's wet. Babies often urinate right after falling asleep.
Don't use creams that contain boric acid, camphor, phenol, methyl salicylate or compound of benzoin tincture. These things can be harmful.
If these things don't work, talk to your doctor.
Doctors don’t recommend using talcum powder or cornstarch. Talcum powder can get in your baby's lungs. Cornstarch may make a diaper rash caused by a yeast infection worse.
If your baby also has an infection with the rash, your doctor might give you a prescription for a special antifungal cream to use on your baby's rash.
The choice is up to you. Some research suggests that because disposable diapers are more absorbent they keep babies drier.
If you use cloth diapers and wash them at home, boil them for 15 minutes on the stove after washing them to kill germs and remove soap that could irritate your baby's skin.
But remember that the most important thing about diapers is to change them often.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff