Unfortunately for parents, most babies get a case of diaper rash before the age of three years old. As a dermatologist, I see fewer diaper rash cases in my office than in the past, but that doesn’t mean the problem has gone away. However, with a few preventative measures of your own, and armed with the information on how to tackle this touchy problem, you and your baby can stay out of the doctor’s office. So here is my doctor-developed guide to treating diaper rash. These steps are part of Dr. Amy’s Daily 4 – the 4 steps you should take each and every day to keep your baby’s skin healthy.
Baby diaper rash usually begins as a red patch in the diaper area. Diaper rash is caused by a number of different things: irritation, wet diapers left on too long, too many poops, loose poops (from being sick or from antibiotics), and diapers that are too tight or too small. If diaper rash goes untreated, the diaper rash can get much worse and include an overgrowth of yeast. When yeast is present with diaper rash you’ll see red satellite bumps and pustules. You may even see bleeding. This phase of diaper rash is very uncomfortable for babies and will make both babies and parents cry.
The best way to treat diaper rash is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some steps to take each day for its prevention:
Change diapers frequently
Your baby’s skin is more sensitive than adult skin so lengthy exposure to pee and poop can irritate a baby’s skin. Infrequent wet diaper changes, tight diapers that are too small, or episodes of diarrhea can lead to diaper rash. As soon as your baby has a poopy diaper, don’t wait – change it! This small step could make all the difference in the world.
Wipe and clean well
Because pee and poop can be irritating to skin, it is important to make sure that the diaper area is wiped well. If your baby’s bottom is healthy with no sign of irritation you can use wipes. Once you see any signs of diaper rash, stop using wipes and switch to a warm wet washcloth. This will feel more soothing to a sore bottom. Unscented wipes are an alternate choice.
Protect the bottom
Apply an ointment to the diaper area with each diaper change to provide a protective layer between your baby’s skin and pee and poop. Ointments are stronger, more hydrating formulas for moisture but won’t leave a residue. Think of Acquafor, Vaseline or our own Hydrating Ointment are options. For longer naps and overnight, use a diaper cream with zinc oxide. Zinc oxide provides an even stronger physical barrier for your baby’s skin. Desitin or Baby Pibu’s Bottom Balm are good choices for overnight protection.
Once you see the first signs of redness, it’s time to employ full diaper rash treatments. The sooner you treat it, the less severe it will be for your little one. Follow these simple steps to ease up the discomfort:
Air out the bottom
As soon as you see a red irritated bottom, consider letting your baby “air it out” and go diaperless around the house for short time periods. This allows for less friction and less chaffing, which will make the bottom feel much better. Of course, there may be accidents, but this is a good strategy for short periods of time.
Use a diaper rash cream when needed
When you start to see a red patch in the diaper area, switch to the diaper cream with zinc oxide at every diaper change. The zinc oxide will further physically protect the skin and allow it to heal. I often get asked how to treat severe diaper rash. If the diaper rash progresses and becomes full-blown with red bumps, start then applying and over-the-counter diaper cream containing clotrimazole. This ingredient will help to battle the yeast that is present in the diaper area. Baby Pibu’s Intensive Bottom Balm Relief was developed especially for this purpose. Continue to apply the diaper cream with zinc oxide as well.
Try a different brand
If your baby has repeated rounds of diaper rash, consider trying a different brand of diaper. A different brand may be less irritating. Different diaper brands use different ingredients and are shaped differently. It could be a diaper ingredient or friction due to the way the diaper fits your baby that is causing the diaper rash.
On final note, if your baby’s diaper rash worsens and does not improve over the course of two to three days, take your baby to your pediatrician or dermatologist.
By following the simple steps in our doctor-developed guide to diaper rash, you and your little one can avoid an extra trip to the doctor.
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