A diaper rash is common but very uncomfortable skin rash that is seen in infants. This red, painful rash thrives in warm, moist environments and may even cause the skin to be scaly, bumpy, or raw. It accounts for about 20% of all childhood visits to a dermatologist.
Some infants are prone to this rash and may get it frequently especially if they have an underlying condition such as eczema.
A diaper rash is often a type of contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin reacts after getting in contact with an irritant, in this case, in the diaper area. Some of these irritants include the following:
- Scents and chemicals in diapers or wipes
In some cases, the rashes may be a result of yeast infections and seborrheic diaper dermatitis.
If any of the following factors apply to an infant, preventive measures might be necessary:
- Infrequent changing of diapers
- Use of antibiotics
- Receiving breastmilk from someone taking antibiotics
- Wearing ill-fitted diapers
- Acidic foods such as citrus
- Underlying condition such as eczema
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
Most cases clear up overtime, especially with proper hygiene. In some cases though, it may be necessary to see a doctor especially when an infant has any of the following symptoms:
- Persistent rash
- Rashes with pus
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION
Change diapers often
Allowing an infant to remain in wet or soiled diaper especially when they already have a rash can make the symptoms worse.
Switch diaper brands or laundry soaps
Frequent diaper rash could mean that the culprit may be the diaper itself. Switch to a new brand with little to no harmful ingredients that could potentially harm the skin. If you choose to use cloth diapers, get a type of laundry detergent that is unscented, to help clear persistent or recurring rashes.
Allow the affected area to breathe
When an infant has a diaper rash, it would be best to have them spend time during the day with no diaper or bottoms to help the area breathe and heal.
Avoid tight diapers
Diapers come in sizes. Ill-fitting ones may irritate the baby’s skin. Caregivers and parents should check that all diapers fit correctly and ensure that they get larger sizes as the infant grows.
Try diaper creams and ointments
There are many barrier creams that can sooth babies’ skin while wearing diapers. Look for creams that contain zinc oxide, and apply a thick layer to the affected skin and allow the area to dry.
Avoid using baby wipes
While it is essential to keep the area clean, baby wipes can sometimes further irritate an existing rash. It is better to clean the diaper area with scent-free soap and water before patting it dry. In situations where it is not possible, choose a scent-free and alcohol-free wipes.
Considering removing any new foods
Introducing new foods to infants is usually beneficial, but certain acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes may cause infants’ feces and urine to become acidic, which can irritate the skin. It is better to introduce them in small quantities and monitor their diaper area if a diaper rash develops at the same time.
Do not scrub the area
Keep the infant’s diaper area clean and dry. Also remember that when cleaning, gentle cleaning is key. Scrubbing the area or rubbing it dry can further irritate the rash and damage the skin.