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Your Baby’s Diaper Rash
No matter how careful you are, your little one will probably get diaper rash at some point. Most babies do. So plan ahead. Learn how to treat diaper rash, plus prevent flare-ups. Your baby’s little bottom will thank you!
Causes of Diaper Rash
- Leaving a wet or dirty diaper on too long
- Rubbing or chafing against the diaper itself
- Yeast infection
- Bacterial infection
- Allergic reaction to diaper
A harmless rash that’s often seen on a baby’s scalp, called cradle cap, can also show up on his bottom. The official term is seborrheic dermatitis.
It causes red, scaly, waxy patches that eventually go away without treatment. You may notice it on other parts of your baby’s body, too.
Babies get a diaper rash more often when they:
- Get older — especially between 8 and 10 months old
- Sleep in poopy diapers
- Have diarrhea
- Start eating solid foods
- Are taking antibiotics, or if you take antibiotics and are nursing
Tips for Treating a Diaper Rash
- Check your baby’s diaper often, and change it as soon as it becomes wet or soiled.
- Use plain water. Only use soap if you need it to get stool off.
- Gently pat the area clean and dry, rather than rubbing.
- If you use wipes, choose mild ones while your baby is fighting diaper rash. Try to avoid those with fragrances or alcohol while your little one’s skin is irritated. Or use a clean, soft washcloth.
- Be sure the area is completely clean and dry before putting on a fresh diaper.
Bad rashes call for extra measures!
- Try a squirt bottle to wash the area well, without rubbing sore skin.
- Let your baby go diaper-free as much as possible. Airing out the diaper zone helps a baby’s skin heal faster. To avoid a mess, do it right after a bowel movement.
Creams, Ointments, and Powder
These products aim to soothe a baby’s sore skin or create a protective barrier — or both.
- Smooth on cream or ointment to your baby’s clean, dry bottom before putting on a clean diaper. Look for zinc oxide or petrolatum (petroleum jelly) in the ingredient list.
- If you use baby powder, take care to keep it away from the baby’s face. The talc or cornstarch in the powder can cause breathing problems.
Skip the steroid creams you find in the drug store (hydrocortisone) unless your doctor tells you to use one. They can irritate your baby’s bottom even more if not used correctly.
Diaper Switches and Laundry Strategies
Some parents find these changes lead to fewer diaper rashes.
- Change the type of diaper. If you use cloth, try disposables. Or try a different brand of disposable diaper.
- If you wash your own cloth diapers, change your detergent. Choose a mild, hypoallergenic soap. Or add a half cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Call the Doctor When:
- The rash gets worse or doesn’t respond to treatment in two or three days.
- Your baby has a fever or seems sluggish.
- You see yellow, fluid-filled bumps (pustules) and honey-colored crusty areas. This is a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics.
- You notice signs of a yeast infection:
- A swollen red rash with white scales and lesions
- Small red “satellite” pimples outside of the diaper area
- Redness in the folds of the baby’s skin
Your pediatrician can prescribe an antifungal medicine to clear it up.