By: Shelli Samson, NI, Penfield Children’s Center’s Special Care Nursery
Ouch! One of the most unpleasant and ever-occurring problems for babies is diaper rash. While a slight red bottom might go unnoticed by your little one, a more extensive rash can itch, burn or even hurt. There are many reasons why diaper rash occurs. Your little one might simply have sensitive skin and even the most gentle cleansers and materials can irritate it. In addition, babies who sit in wet or soiled diapers for too long can get a rash or those who develop a bacterial or yeast infection will also have noticeable red or spotted areas. Diaper rash can also occur in babies who eat new or solid foods for the first time or those who take antibiotics.
So, what steps can you as a parent or caregiver take to combat diaper rash? Here are some ways to keep diaper rash at bay and also treat severe cases if they come about.
- Make sure to change your baby’s diaper often. Dirty diapers should be changed right away. Make it a routine to check your little one’s diaper every couple hours to ensure he isn’t sitting in even a wet diaper for too long.
- Add a little ointment. One of the most effective, readily available ointments you can put on your baby is petroleum jelly. Zinc oxide is also a great option.
- Let baby go diaper-less when possible. Fresh air is a great way to let your little one’s bottom dry naturally and prevent a rash from forming.
- Keep diapers secure, but not too tight. If your baby’s diaper is too tight, airflow is restricted and the diaper area can stay too moist. Make sure to leave a little “breathing room” in his diaper so that he can move easily. This will also prevent chafing along the waist and on his legs.
My baby has diaper rash. Now what?
If your little one does develop diaper rash, there are some tried and true ways to soothe his skin and heal the affected areas. In addition to allowing him to go without a diaper when possible, try to avoid wet wipes and opt for a washcloth or paper towel soaked in water. Water wipes are also a good option. Do not rub your baby’s bottom, but instead pat him dry or let him air dry. Also, make sure to wash your hands well after all diaper changes as this can prevent harmful bacteria and yeast from causing your baby to develop a rash.
The diaper debate. Cloth or disposable?
This is a common question among parents. Does one option do a better job at reducing diaper rash than the other? According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no compelling evidence that proves either kind is better. Because of this, it’s best to see what works for your baby and your lifestyle. Also pay attention to how laundry soap affects your child. Does your little one seem more affected by certain brands than others? Pay attention to any signs of irritation (all over his body) after trying new soaps.
While prevention is key, most babies will experience a bout of diaper rash at least once or twice. Home treatment is usually all that is needed, but if your baby develops a fever, blisters or other concerns in addition to the rash, make sure to see the pediatrician, as these can be signs of possibly another issue.
What remedies have you tried to prevent diaper rash?