Diaper Rash – What is it?
The reddish patch of inflamed, bright red skin on the bottom or genital area of a baby, is the pesky diaper rash. There are various types of diaper rash based on the cause of its occurrence. In medical terms, diaper rash is referred to as diaper dermatitis.
No matter how carefully we take care of the babies, most of them get it at some point in time. So, instead of getting alarmed or stressed, let us try to understand its types, causes, symptoms, preventive measures, and treatment options, especially if you are first-time parents. Let’s jump into it right away.
Causes of Diaper Rash
Diaper rash in babies occurs due to various causes, including:
Prolonged exposure to stool or urine: A wet or soiled diaper left on babies for a more extended period might often lead to diaper rash as these waste materials are known to irritate the baby’s skin.
Friction against diaper: Constant rubbing of the baby’s skin against the diaper or wearing too tight diaper might cause a rash.
Skin allergies: Soaps, detergents, and fabric conditioners used for laundry, disposable diapers, and some lotions might result in an allergic reaction, eventually leading to the rash formation.
Bacterial and yeast infection: Some forms of bacteria and yeast that grow in warm, moist places lead to bacterial and yeast infection. Also, yeast infections are common when the baby or the breastfeeding mother is on antibiotics. In these cases, the skin turns bright red with small red spots on the infected area.
Intake of solid foods: The addition of new foods in the baby’s diet might change the frequency of the stools, leading to diaper rash. In other cases, a breastfed baby can develop the rash as a reaction to the food consumed by the mother.
Symptoms of Diaper Rash
The common symptom of diaper rash is tender, red skin in the diaper region of the baby, i.e., buttocks, thighs, genital areas, etc.
If left untreated in the initial stage, it might lead to the formation of pimples, blisters, or other sores on the diaper region. In the worst scenario, the skin turns bright red, along with swelling. Small red spots or patches spread to the baby’s body parts outside the area of the diaper.
Noticeable changes in the baby:
Most often, the babies cry due to the irritation caused by the diaper rash when the affected area is touched or cleaned. In some cases, skin irritation can lead to fever in the baby.
What Parents Can Do To Prevent Diaper Rash In Babies
As said, prevention is better than cure. As parents, we should take extra care in protecting our little ones from skin conditions such as diaper rash. Following a few simple steps reduces the likelihood of diaper rash occurrence, preventing the baby from all the suffering.
Here are the steps you can take to keep diaper rash at bay.
Frequent change of diapers: Remove soiled or wet diapers promptly. Check for it as often as possible. If the baby is under the care of a babysitter during the day time, you can ask them to take extra care.
Clean the diaper area while changing diapers: Wipe your baby’s bottom every time you change the diaper. You can use wet clothes, cotton balls, or water-based wet wipes specially designed for baby’s tender skin. However, avoid wipes with alcohol or fragrance as they might irritate the baby’s skin.
Pat dry the diaper area: Dry the baby’s bottom with a clean towel or allow it to air dry after cleaning it. Avoid scrubbing as it leads to skin irritation.
Wash hands before and after the diaper change: Washing your hands every time before and after changing the diaper helps in the prevention of germs, thereby, infections.
Avoid tight diapers: Tight diapers prevent airflow in the baby’s diaper zone, setting up a moist environment that houses bacterial and yeast infections. Also, tight diapers cause chafing at the waist and thighs of the baby.
More diaper-free time: Whenever possible, let your baby go diaper-free. It helps the baby’s bottom region to air-dry naturally. To prevent messy incidents, you can lay your baby on a large towel and engage in some playtime while the baby is bare-bottomed.
Use ointments regularly: If your baby develops rashes often, it is advised to apply diaper rash cream or ointment during each diaper change to prevent skin irritation. Zinc oxide is an active ingredient that is proven to soothe the sensitive skin of babies.
Types of Diaper Rash
A diaper rash is no joke. It occurs in all stages of the baby if proper attention is not given. Moreover, the causes of diaper rash occurrence vary from baby to baby. Understanding the exact cause of the rash and its type is vital to treat your baby correctly. Else, the treatment options will not be of much use.
The diaper rash can be widely classified into four types. Those are:
Irritant diaper dermatitis
What causes it? This kind of diaper rash is caused by diapers themselves when it comes in contact with the wet skin of the baby (mainly from stools and urine).
What does it look like? Redness and swelling of the baby’s skin in the diaper zone, i.e., over the bottom area and around the thighs.
What causes it? Candida dermatitis occurs due to yeast overgrowth. Diarrhea, ammonia in urine, the acid in stools, tight diapers, and reaction to several baby products might lead to yeast infection in babies. This is because they lead to a warm and moist environment, which is an ideal condition for yeast to grow and multiply rapidly.
What does it look like? Redness and swelling in and around the creases of the legs, bottom, and genital areas characterize Candida dermatitis. pimples, blisters, large bumps, or sores with pus might also be formed.
What causes it? Rashes due to bacteria occur when the baby’s skin is already irritated or has small cuts that occurred previously due to vigorous wiping or non-bacterial rash.
What does it look like? It looks like small or large pus-filled blisters that rupture easily to form crusts. Also, it occurs as a bright red rash around the genitals of the baby.
What causes it? This type of diaper rash occurs when the baby’s skin shows an allergic response when it comes in contact with something. The allergy might be caused by any baby product that contains alcohol or fragrance, including detergent, fabric conditioner, soap, and more.
What does it look like? Red and worn away in the skin areas that come in contact with the allergen. However, it is quite tricky to spot if not examined thoroughly.
Common Diaper Rashes And Treatment Methods
Treatment of diaper rash differs based on its type and the cause of its occurrence. Let’s have a look at how it can be treated for each kind of diaper rash.
Irritant diaper dermatitis: This most common type of diaper rash occurs mainly when the diaper zone is exposed continuously to stools and urine.
Here’s how you can treat it:
- Change wet or soiled diapers frequently
- Clean the area during the diaper change
- Choose a diaper that is not tight, allowing the area to air-dry
- Go for diapers that don’t irritate your baby’s skin
- Keep the diaper zone clean
Candida dermatitis: Next to irritant dermatitis, candida, or yeast infections are the most common type of diaper rash in babies. If your baby has this kind of diaper rash, it is essential to wash your hands before and after every time you change the diapers.
When consulted with your pediatrician, he/she might prescribe topical diaper rash ointment or cream.
Bacterial dermatitis: Of the other types of diaper rash, this one is quite severe and needs immediate doctor attention. It has to be consulted and treated by the pediatrician.
Do not use over-the-counter ointments for this kind of diaper rash as it might lead to further skin irritation, worsening the situation further.
Allergic dermatitis: It is important to find the products that irritate the skin so you can avoid using it. You can find it after your baby’s skin is exposed to that product, and the areas subject to the product develop a rash.
Switching brands or product types for two weeks can help you in sorting this out.
Other types of diaper rashes: Apart from these usual types of diaper rash, there are conditions like overproduction of oil, inherited form of zinc deficiency, etc. that cause rashes in babies. You can treat them by consulting with your pediatrician.
When Should You Reach Out To Your Doctor?
If the diaper rash in your baby doesn’t clear even after following basic hygiene and simple skincare tips, then it is time to take the baby to his/her doctor. They can prescribe medications that keep your baby’s skin to recover faster.
Other signs that demand medical attention is:
- When the rash doesn’t go away even after treating the baby by yourself for two to three days.
- When the rash is accompanied by pimples, peeling skin, blisters, or pus-filled crusty sores.
- When the rash is getting worse or spreading to other body parts of the baby.
- When you are not sure about the cause of the diaper rash.
- When the baby intakes antibiotic medicines and develops rashes at the edges of the diaper.
- When the baby has a fever in addition to the rash.
Educating Parents To Treat Diaper Rash
Diaper rash is a condition that causes extreme discomfort to the baby and leaves the parents anxious and stressed. Helping parents to be aware of the causes, symptoms, and treatment measures of diaper rash can help them relieve from all stress and get their babies treated before the conditions worsen.
Identifying diaper rash
Most commonly, diaper rash occurs in infants and children who are younger than two years of age. Hence, as a parent, you should continuously check out your baby for the symptoms of diaper rash. Also, you should follow all hygienic practices mentioned above even if you do not notice any signs of diaper rash in your baby. That way, you and your baby can be free from the worries of diaper rash.
Using only medications prescribed by doctors
As we all know, infants are vulnerable to harsh chemicals that come in contact with their skin. Especially when they have diaper rash, the use of a wrong medication can worsen the condition to a great extent. Hence, it is recommended to consult with your pediatrician and use only the diaper rash creams or ointments prescribed by them.
Creams, ointments, and powder
These are products that are prescribed by pediatricians to treat the diaper rash in babies. They are known to soothe the baby’s infected skin, promoting healing.
Apply diaper rash creams and ointments to your baby’s clean, dry bottom before putting on a fresh diaper. If you are applying diaper rash powder, ensure to keep it away from your baby’s face as they might lead to breathing problems.
Switching between cloth and disposable diapers
When your baby starts developing a diaper rash, you can try switching the type of diaper you use for him/her. Go for disposables if you are using cloth diapers. If you are already using a disposable diaper, then try changing the brand.
Washing cloth diapers
If you use cloth diapers, wash them carefully to prevent diaper rash. Ensure to clean, disinfect, and remove soap residues.
How you can go about it:
- Pre-soak soiled cloth diapers in cold water.
- After this, wash it in hot water with a mild detergent.
- You can add vinegar to eliminate odor and remove soap residue.
- Double rinse the diapers in cold water to remove chemicals and soaps.
- Use fabric conditioners that are free from alcohol and fragrances.
Do not use the same laundry products for your baby like yours. Opt for laundry products available exclusively for babies that are free from harsh chemicals. It helps the baby to a great extent from developing allergic rashes.
Guide To Diaper Your Newborns
As a first-time parent, you might find it a bit uncomfortable to diaper a baby who keeps on turning. You might find it tricky to handle the baby or find the right positions to place the diapers. However, you will have plenty of time to practice with your newborn, and eventually, you can get a hold of it in no time.
To help you in this task of diaper changing, we came up with the tips below:
Before diaper change:
- Set up a changing pad or table at the height of your waist. It prevents you from straining your back while diapering your baby.
- Place a mat that is either disposable or launder-able on the changing table before laying your baby on it.
- Keep a clean diaper nearby before you start to change the diaper.
- Have the diapers, wet wipes, and creams or ointments within reach while changing the diapers. Never leave your baby alone for any reason.
During diaper change:
- Remove the tabs of the diaper. Hold your baby’s legs in one hand and use the other hand to remove the soiled diaper.
- If there are stools in the diaper, use the front of the diaper to wipe the mess in the back of the diaper. Do not go the other way round as it might affect the baby’s skin.
- With the soiled diaper pressed flat under the baby, using a wet wipe or washcloth to clean the diaper area from front to the back.
- Lift the baby’s legs, slide and remove the soiled diaper out.
- Place the end of the clean diaper under the baby and put the front side between the legs of the baby.
- Carefully pin the corners of the diaper, so they stick together. Do not tighten it. Leave some space for the airflow.
After diaper change:
It is a great idea to dump the stools in the toilet before disposing of it in the trash can. It helps in reducing the odor.
As a parent, it is vital to learn everything about diapers, how to diaper your baby, and handle the condition promptly. So, it can be easily cured and can be prevented from occurring in some cases.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Is diaper rash a sign of neglectful parenting?
No, not at all. Parents often think that diaper rash occurs because of their poor caretaking skills. It is common for babies to develop rashes even when you take care of them all the time. You may reduce the frequency of its occurrence but cannot prevent it entirely.
2. Can diaper rash be treated at home?
You can treat diaper rash at home by extra bathing the baby and leaving the diaper zone to air dry. But, it won’t be a permanent solution for the condition. It is better to consult with your pediatrician as soon as your baby encounters the diaper rash.
3. Is it possible to prevent a diaper rash?
Several approaches, such as timely change of soiled diapers, more diaper-free time, and allowing the baby’s diaper zone to air dry can reduce the frequency of diaper rash occurrence. However, you can completely get rid of the condition.
4. Should I use cloth diapers or disposable diapers?
It depends on your baby’s skin. You can consult with your pediatrician to get a better idea. No matter what kind of diaper you use, do not leave the soiled or wet diaper on your baby for too long.
5. Is switching between diapers frequently preventing diaper rash?
It is advised to keep changing diaper brands once in two weeks. So, you will understand which diaper best suits your baby’s skin. If the brand you use does not cause any damage to the baby’s skin, then you can stick with it.
We, at Curatio Healthcare, understand that your baby’s health is your priority. To help you in preventing your baby from developing Diaper Rash, we have a Zinc Oxide-rich diaper rash cream – B4 Nappi Cream.