When your newborn arrived into the world, her skin was soft and smooth. Naturally, you are worried when you go to change her diaper one day, and you see that her bottom is bright red, irritated, and tender. Although it’s alarming to see your once-smooth baby’s bottom is red and irritated, diaper rash is quite common in infants.
Diaper rash is a common form of dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) that affects your infant’s bottom. This baby skin problem is typically seen in babies between 4 and 15 months old, and it is often noticed more after solid food is introduced. Nearly every baby will get diaper rash at least once during her first three years of life, so you are definitely not alone.
*** Note: Real diaper rash pictures below ***
What Causes Diaper Rash?
There are a number of contributing factors that can cause your baby to develop diaper rash. The most common culprits include the following:
- Skin Irritation from Dirty Diapers – Your baby has very sensitive skin, so prolonged exposure to urine and stools can make her more likely to develop diaper rash. For this reason, a baby that is left in a dirty diaper for too long has a higher likelihood of getting diaper rash. But even if you are the most diligent diaper changer, an infant with sensitive skin can still get diaper rash. Babies can also get diaper rash if the diaper is put on too tight, or as a result of diaper chaffing.
- Moisture on Your Baby’s Skin – Moisture that is left on your baby’s skin puts her at risk for diaper rash. When your infant’s urine mixes with the bacteria from her bowel movements, it can break down and produce ammonia, which is very harsh to your baby’s delicate skin. As a result, your baby’s skin can become irritated. Keep in mind that even the most absorbent diaper can leave moisture on your baby’s bottom.
- Chemical Sensitivity – Your baby can get diaper rash because of her delicate skin reacts badly to the chemicals and fragrances found in her disposable diaper. If your baby uses cloth diapers, the detergents used to wash the diaper can also cause irritation that leads to diaper rash.
- Bacterial or Yeast Infection – The area covered by your baby’s diaper is warm and moist, which makes it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. Diaper rashes caused by the yeast, Candida albicans, cause your baby’s skin to become red, slightly raised, with small red dots extending past the main area of the rash. Yeast diaper rashes typically begin in the creases and folds of your baby’s skin, and it can spread to both the front and back of your infant.Babies that are more likely to develop yeast-related diaper rashes include infants on antibiotics (or whose breastfeeding moms are taking antibiotics, since antibiotics can kill of healthy bacteria that prevent Candida from growing); and babies who aren’t kept clean and dry.
- Introduction to Solid Foods – Diaper rash can strike when your baby is introduced to solid foods, because the introduction to new food can change the composition of her baby bowel movements, and it can also increase how frequently she passes stools. Both of these changes can contribute to diaper rash.
What Does Diaper Rash Look Like?
When your baby has diaper rash, it’s not hard to diagnose. Like its name indicates, diaper rash is a rash (red, irritated area) found on the skin underneath your baby’s diaper. The rash can appear all over your infant’s genital area, his bottom, and in the folds of her skin.
Diaper rash can be mild or severe. In severe cases it’s possible that the tender, red bumps extend past your baby’s diaper area. They can also affect her tummy and thighs.
The rash is often bright red, puffy, and tender looking. In little boys, diaper rash can cause scaly areas on your baby’s penis and scrotum. In little girls, the labia and vagina can become red and scaly. Diaper rash may look like red pimples, large bumps, and pus-filled sores.
In most cases, home treatment can improve diaper rash. But if your baby’s diaper rash does not get better within a few days (after using an over-the-counter diaper rash ointment or cream, and more frequent diaper changes), you should contact your child’s pediatrician.
You need to also contact the baby’s doctor if her fever is accompanied with a fever, blisters, severe rash that extends past the diaper area, and pus or discharge. All of these symptoms may be a sign that the rash is infected. Your doctor may need to prescribe an antibiotic to help.
For any yeast-related diaper rashes, the pediatrician may prescribe an antifungal medication to help it go away.
Treating Diaper Rash
One of the best ways to treat diaper rash is to keep your baby’s bottom clean and dry. You need to change her diaper frequently, and this may mean that you have to wake up at night for diaper changes. You should change poopy diapers immediately.
Before each diaper change, wash your hands well.
- When changing her diaper, clean the diaper area with water and cotton balls (or soft cloth). Don’t rub or scrub the area. You may want to use a squirt bottle of warm water for sensitive areas.
- Pat your infant’s skin dry. Do not rub or scrub the diaper area, since this can cause further irritation.
- Avoid using any baby wipes that contain alcohol or perfume, since these ingredients can dry out and irritate your baby’s skin. You will also need to stay away from cornstarch, since this can make a yeast diaper rash even worse. Never use talc (talcum powder), since it can get into your infant’s lungs.
- Apply a barrier diaper rash ointment, which will form a protective layer on your baby’s skin, after cleaning and drying the baby’s skin. This can help protect your infant’s irritated, red skin from urine and stool. You can find different diaper rash creams on the market to do this job, including petroleum jelly and zinc oxide. Smear the diaper rash cream very thickly at each diaper change.
- Put on the diaper very loosely. You may want to use a diaper in a larger size, which is too large for your baby. This may provide better air circulation. Diapers that are placed on too tightly may not allow for enough air, and they can rub and irritate your baby’s skin even further.
- If you use cloth diapers, avoid using any plastic or rubber pants, since they don’t allow for good air circulation. When you’re washing the cloth diapers, you may want to rinse it three or four times to remove all of the soap from it. This may help reduce irritation during a diaper rash spell.
When your baby has a diaper rash, you may want to allow your infant to go without a diaper whenever it’s convenient. This helps dry out the rash and speeds up the healing process. To prevent messy cleanups, you may want to place her on a towel, or you can place a plastic mattress protector underneath the cloth sheet in her crib.
With home care (frequent diaper changes and using diaper rash cream), your baby’s diaper rash is often cleared up within two or three days. Sometimes it can linger for longer. But if you are worried, contact your pediatrician and ask questions.
Diaper Rash Pictures