What is Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is a term that refers to the skin on a baby’s bottom, thighs and diaper area that can become inflamed — meaning it turns red and can be sensitive when touched. Most cases of diaper rash come from something called contact dermatitis, which is a sort of allergic reaction in the skin; however, sometimes diaper rash can come from an infection of the skin by bacteria or fungus.

How Do You Know if a Baby Has Diaper Rash?

You’ll know when a baby has diaper rash! The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Red, irritated-looking skin in the baby’s diaper area
  • Extra fussiness or cries when the baby’s diaper is changed or the area is washed or handled.

Do You Ever Have to Go to the Doctor for Diaper Rash?

The good news is that, in most cases, babies can be treated for their diaper rash right at home! However, sometimes parents will have to call their doctor, especially if:

  • The rash looks the same even after it has been treated or it actually get worse.
  • The affected area begins to bleed, appears to be itchy or has odor or discharge (which means there is stuff other than blood seeping out of the skin).
  • The baby’s temperature goes up.
  • The baby appears to be in pain when they pee or poo.

Any of these symptoms can mean that something else is going on besides a simple diaper rash and the doctors need to examine the baby to see what is wrong.

What Causes Diaper Rash?

There are actually quite a few causes for diaper rash! These can include:

  • A skin reaction to pee or poo. When a baby’s diaper is not changed right away, their skin comes into contact with pee or poo and this can cause the skin to get red and irritated. This is the most common reason that babies get this rash.
  • An allergy. This rash can also happen if a baby is allergic to soap, lotion, powder, laundry soap or other kind of product.  
  • Sensitive skin. Some babies naturally have more sensitive skin than others and it can get irritated more easily.
  • A skin infection.  Sometimes, the skin can become infected with a bacteria or a fungus.
  • Tight diapers or clothes. Diapers or clothes that are too small can rub against the skin and cause irritation.  

How Do You Know if a Baby’s Diaper Rash is Infected?

Babies who have an infected diaper rash will have definite signs and symptoms:

  • Bacterial infections can result in blisters or pustules (raised areas on the skin that are filled with fluid or pus)
  • Fungal infections (also called yeast infections) show up as bright red patches of skin that can also be in the skin folds of a baby’s legs.

How Do You Treat a Diaper Rash?

There are a lot of ways to treat diaper rash — once you figure out what’s causing it! The best ways include:

  • Changing the baby’s diaper immediately as soon as it is wet or dirty.
  • Using a mild medicated cream on the skin – but only if the doctor says it’s ok!
  • Cleaning a baby with a washcloth instead of a baby wipe — it is less irritating!
  • Using disposable diapers instead of cloth diapers — they help keep a baby dry!
  • Letting a baby do without diapers for a little while, such as when they are napping: this lets air get to the skin and helps it heal!
  • Bathing the baby every day with mild soap and water until the rash is healed.
  • Putting a slightly larger diaper on the baby so it won’t rub against the skin.
  • Using a paste with zinc oxide, special kind of cream which helps heal the skin.
  • Using products like witch hazel, calendula or aloe vera which also help the skin heal and which all are made from plants.
  • Using products like soaps or detergents that do not have any artificial smells or colors.

There are also things parents should NOT do when a baby has a diaper rash, including:

  • Dressing the baby in plastic pants or diaper cover; this means that less air is getting to the baby’s skin.
  • Using talcum powder or cornstarch on a baby — they can breath the powder in accidently and this can make them very sick.
  • Using medications with ingredients like boric acid, camphor, phenol, benzocaine, or diphenhydramine: these can make a baby sick even in small doses.
  • Using neosporin cream, since some babies can be allergic to it.

In short, diaper rash looks pretty bad – and it makes a baby uncomfortable too! However, with a little bit of TLC, most babies will start to get better right at home!