What to Do About Diaper Rashes

A baby is likely to develop a diaper rash during infancy despite how carefully caregivers attend to his hygiene. Antibiotics taken by a baby or his breastfeeding mother increase the likelihood of the baby developing a diaper rash. Other risk factors include having diarrhea, sleeping in a soiled diaper and starting solid foods.

Mild Diaper Rashes

To prevent the occurrence of a diaper rash or treat a mild rash, caregivers should check the baby’s diaper often and always wash their hands before and after a diaper change. When changing the diaper, they should only use plain water with or without a mild cleanser. Alternatively, they may use a clean washcloth or fragrance-free, alcohol-free moist wipes. Before putting on a new diaper, caregivers should gently pat the area dry.

Severe Diaper Rashes

In some cases, a yeast infection, bacterial infection, allergic reaction to the diaper or seborrheic dermatitis can cause diaper rashes. When rashes are severe, the child’s dermatologist may recommend that caregivers use a squirt bottle to cleanse the area. To facilitate healing, the baby should go without a diaper as much as possible until the rash clears. If an allergic reaction is suspected, a change in diaper brand or laundry detergent is also recommended. Caregivers may use creams, powders or ointments to soothe and protect the affected area:

Cornstarch and talc powders keep the diaper area dry; however, caregivers should avoid creating puffs of powder near the baby’s face to prevent respiratory problems from inhalation. Hydrocortisone and other over-the-counter steroid creams should only be used after speaking to a dermatologist as these creams may aggravate the affected area. Ointments that contain petroleum jelly or zinc oxide can provide the infant relief and create a protective barrier.

Certain signs and symptoms require a visit to a board-certified Orange County dermatologist like Dr. Tony Nakhla. If the rash worsens or does not improve in 3 days, caregivers should call a dermatologist. These are other signs that doctor-intervention is necessary:

  • Crusty patches.
  • Fever.
  • Lethargy.
  • Lesions or white scales.
  • Pustules or crusty patches.
  • Small red pimples.
  • Redness in skin folds.