A pediatrician’s tips for treating diaper rash
Parents of infants and toddlers spend a lot of time changing diapers. In fact, a baby goes through approximately 3,000 diapers in their first year of life.
While changing your child’s diaper, you may notice a rash but there’s no need to panic. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, at least half of all babies get diaper rash at some point.
“It’s one of the most common skin rashes among infants and toddlers,” says Dr. Sarah Smith, a pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group in Saint Charles, Ill. “The rash is typically caused by excessive moisture and friction irritation in the diaper area. Over-wiping, not changing diapers frequently enough, diarrhea and recent use of antibiotics can increase the risk of developing a rash.”
Not all rashes are the same. Irritant diaper rash is the most common type and usually causes reddening of the skin in areas that the diaper touches. You may also notice red raised bumps.
“This is typically treated with frequent diaper changes to avoid prolonged exposure of the skin to stool and urine,” explains Dr. Smith. “It’s important to gently wipe the skin with warm water and use a mild, fragrance-free soap to clean the skin. Then, apply a petroleum ointment and a zinc-based paste.”
The ointment and paste help to soothe and protect the skin from the diaper. With this at-home treatment, a mild case of diaper rash should clear up in two or three days.
Another type of rash to look out for is a yeast diaper rash. It typically appears as very thick red lesions or bright red bumps. This rash can also appear in the creases and folds of the skin. Dr. Smith notes that in severe cases you may notice cracking skin or sores that ooze or bleed.
“In addition to frequent diaper changes and cleaning, a yeast diaper rash is also treated with an over-the-counter antifungal topical cream,” shares Dr. Smith. “This should be applied to the rash alternating every other diaper change with the ointment and paste that is used for irritant diaper rash.”
With both types of rashes, it’s important to monitor your child’s skin over the next few days. If it does not improve or if it worsens you should schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatrician.
The pediatrician may recommend a prescription-strength medicine to treat the rash. Dr. Smith says the doctor can also help rule out other less common causes of diaper rash.
To keep your baby’s bottom healthy, remember to frequently change diapers and provide gentle cleaning of the skin each time.
About the Author
Elizabeth Blasko is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She studied public relations and nonprofit leadership at Western Michigan University. Elizabeth previously worked at Bernie's Book Bank, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing book ownership among underserved children.