Treating and preventing diaper rash
Diaper rash is almost inevitable at some point for babies and toddlers. The good news is that most diaper rashes can be cleared up without a special trip to the doctor. Here’s what you need to know to help you soothe a red bottom.
Diagnosing diaper rash
When a baby’s sensitive skin is irritated by wet or soiled diapers, the result is diaper rash, or “irritant diaper dermatitis.” It is often caused by diarrhea, and is characterized by painfully irritated red skin and/or spots or open sores.
In some cases, diaper rash can be caused by a yeast infection. This fungal infection thrives in moist warm areas, like in the folds of the skin, and is characterized by red skin and small red spots. This type of rash is usually not painful, but will require a prescription for an antifungal or corticosteroid cream.
Treating diaper rash
1. Cleanse thoroughly. Keeping your baby’s bottom clean and dry is key, so start by cleaning baby’s skin carefully with warm water—just rinsing rather than using a washcloth. If your baby’s bottom is really sore, try using mineral oil to remove feces from the skin. (Some wipes, especially if they contain fragrance or alcohol, can irritate a baby’s skin so avoid them if your baby has a rash.) After cleansing, use a soft towel to gently pat your baby dry, taking special care to dry along creases and folds in the skin.
2. Apply a barrier. The next step is to prevent more contact with urine and stool. To protect skin, apply a thick layer of an unscented barrier cream like zinc oxide or petroleum jelly so that it completely covers the skin. (Take care to not contaminate the cream by touching the affected area and then putting that finger back in the cream; use a different finger if you need more ointment.) You’ll find a variety of barrier creams at Pharmaprix —just ask a pharmacist!
3. Allow for air time. When possible, allow your baby to “air out” on a dry towel without a diaper for a little while. This can help speed up healing time.
4. Change frequently. Try to change a wet or soiled diaper immediately, especially if your baby has diarrhea. Keeping the area as clean and dry as possible will help clear up the rash, and also prevent future rashes.
If the rash does not get better in a few days, or if your baby develops a fever, make an appointment to see your doctor.