Author:Dr. P. Siva Bharathi, M.D (Peds), AB (USA).
Diaper rash is one of the most common skin problems in infants. This is a form of skin inflammation that appears as bright red patchy rash on babies bottom. This occurs commonly due to continuously wet and infrequently changed diapers and /or due to diarrhea.
Irritation: Excessive exposure to stool and urine irritates, babies skin and can cause diaper rash. Typical characteristic of rash caused by irritation is that it rarely involves the skin fold regions.
Infection: This is the next most common cause for diaper rash. The two most common infection which cause diaper rash are Bacterial and fungal (yeast). These infections usually involve buttocks, thighs and genitals. These rashes generally start within the creases of the skin and there may be red dots or patches scattered around the creases.
Use of Antibiotics: Every individual has lot of good/ harmless bacteria living in or skin and other parts of our body. Antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria in our body. Without the right balance of good bacteria, harmful microorganisms like yeast (candida) can grow freely and can cause diaper rash. These type or diaper rash happens when babies or the breast-feeding mothers take antibiotics.
Allergic Reactions: These are a less common cause of diaper rash. Allergens from components of the diaper or wipes can cause rash if the baby is allergic.
Keeping Dry: The best treatment for diaper rash is to keep the baby’s bottom dry and clean as possible. Frequent diaper changes limits stool and urine exposure and helps the skin to heal. Simple cleaning with water and soft cloths and frequent application of any diaper ointments that containing either petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or Zinc oxide helps in healing of diaper rash.
Increasing Airflow: Open-air exposure of the irritated skin by letting your child to go without a diaper for short periods of time might help.
Antibiotic Creams: If the above measures did not show any response in 2-3 days then it is time to see a doctor, as there is possibility of a secondary bacterial or yeast infection. Your doctor might prescribe an antifungal cream with or without a mild hydrocortisone (steroid) cream, depending on the severity of the rash.
- Change the diapers as often as needed and rinse the baby’s bottom with clean water during each diaper change if possible.
- Let your baby go without a diaper whenever it is possible.
- Wash cloth diapers in hot water and use mild detergents.
- If your baby gets frequent diaper rash, consider using a barrier ointment (Vaseline or zinc oxide) during each diaper change.
- Always wash your hands well after each diaper rash.