Diaper rash is a red, painful rash that thrives in warm, moist environments. The rash may cause the skin to be scaly, bumpy, or raw. This condition accounts for about 20 percent of all childhood visits to a dermatologist.
Some infants are particularly prone to diaper rash and may get it very frequently, especially if they have an underlying skin condition, such as eczema.
In this article, learn about the causes of diaper rash as well as how to treat it quickly and effectively.
Ten treatments and home remedies
Changing diapers often can help to prevent diaper rash.
People can use the following methods to help prevent and treat diaper rash:
1. Changing diapers often
When an infant has a diaper rash, parents and caregivers should be even more vigilant than usual about changing their diapers promptly.
Allowing an infant to remain in a wet or soiled diaper when they have a rash can make the symptoms worse.
2. Switching diaper brands or laundry detergents
If an infant develops a diaper rash frequently, their skin may be sensitive to a particular product. For example, a specific brand of diaper or baby wipe could trigger the rash. If people use cloth diapers, the type of laundry detergent that they use could also be responsible for the rashes.
Eliminating harsh chemicals and scents may help to clear persistent or recurring rashes.
3. Allowing the area to breath
When an infant has diaper rash, ensuring that they spend some time during the day with no diaper or bottoms on can help the area to dry out and heal.
People should also avoid putting infants in tight, synthetic, or rubber bottoms while they have diaper rash.
Dressing them in loose bottoms made of 100 percent cotton can help to keep the rash dry and allow the skin to breathe.
4. Making sure that the diaper fits properly
Diapers that are too tight can irritate diaper rash. Parents and caregivers should check that all diapers fit correctly and ensure that they buy larger sizes as the infant grows.
5. Trying diaper creams and ointments
There are many barrier creams and skin-soothing ointments available at grocery stores, pharmacies, and online.
Parents and caregivers should look for creams containing zinc oxide. They should apply a thick layer of one of these creams to the affected skin and allow the area to dry.
6. Avoiding using baby wipes
Although it is essential to keep the infant’s diaper area clean, baby wipes can irritate an existing diaper rash.
If an infant has diaper rash, it is best to clean the diaper area gently using scent-free soap and water before patting it dry.
In situations where this is not possible, it is advisable to choose scent-free, natural wipes, which are available in pharmacies or online.
7. Considering removing any new foods
Introducing new foods is usually beneficial, but certain acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, may cause some infants’ urine and feces to become particularly acidic and irritating.
Parents and caregivers should be careful to introduce these foods in small quantities and to monitor the infant to see if a new diaper rash develops at the same time. If it does, they should remove acidic foods from the infant’s diet until the rash has healed.
8. Using unscented soaps and detergents
Certain bubble baths may cause diaper rash.
Skin irritants, including the scents in soaps and detergents, are responsible for many cases of diaper rash.
Common culprits include scented laundry detergents, some baby soaps and creams, and certain bubble baths, even though the manufacturers often promote them as being child-friendly.
9. Avoiding scrubbing the area
Keeping the infant’s diaper area clean and dry is vital, especially when they have a rash, but people should remember that gentle cleaning is best.
Scrubbing this area of the body or rubbing it dry can further irritate the rash and damage the sensitive skin.
10. Trying an oatmeal bath
Research shows that colloidal oatmeal may reduce the inflammation and irritation that atopic dermatitis and inflammatory skin conditions can cause. Colloidal oatmeal may also reduce the pain and itching that comes with a diaper rash.
People can buy oatmeal bath treatments in many drug stores and online. People should follow the directions on the package and pat the infant’s skin dry afterward.
Diaper rash is often a type of contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin reacts to touching an irritant. In the diaper area, common irritants include:
- scents and chemicals in diapers or wipes
In some cases, diaper rash may result from other causes, including yeast infections and seborrheic diaper dermatitis.
Some infants are more prone than others to developing diaper rash. If any of the following risk factors apply to an infant, preventive measures might be necessary:
- changing the diaper too infrequently
- having diarrhea
- using antibiotics
- receiving breast milk from someone taking antibiotics
- wearing ill-fitting diapers
- trying new acidic foods, such as citrus fruits
- having an underlying skin condition, such as eczema
When to see a doctor
Consult a doctor if a fever or swelling accompany diaper rash.
Most cases of diaper rash clear up over time when parents or caregivers use the home remedies above.
In some cases though, it is necessary to see a doctor. People should take an infant with diaper rash to see the doctor if they have any of the following symptoms:
- a persistent rash that does not clear with home remedies
- a rash that oozes fluid or pus
Diaper rash is not always preventable, and most babies and small children will experience it at least once.
While diaper rash can be painful or irritating, there are many steps that a parent or caregiver can take to help prevent it.
A range of home remedies can help to ease the symptoms and heal the skin.