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What Is A Diaper Rash
According to WebMD, a rash on the skin under the diaper is referred to as “Diaper Rash.” Diaper rash is common in infants and children younger than two years of age. Your child will get diaper rash at least once during the first 24 months of childhood. More than 3 million US cases per year. Diaper rash, also known as diaper dermatitis happens because the baby’s skin is staying wet and rubbing against the diaper. This generally happens when babies sleep for an extended period allowing the wet diaper to be on them longer. Direct contact with your babies delicate skin by chemicals from the urine and stool can also be the culprit of your child’s rash.
I’ve documented our personal experience with a very bad case of diaper rash. Hopefully, you can benefit from my trial and errors!
Diaper Rash Symptoms
Identifying a diaper rash is usually fairly easy. The rash is located on the skin underneath the diaper area. The skin will be inflamed, irritated and bright red where the diaper has touched the skin. It could appear all over your baby’s buttocks or genital area, or only in certain areas. Folds of the skin, may or may not be involved.
Types Of Diaper Rash
A Contact diaper rash is when the babies skin is exposed to something and has an allergic reaction to it. These substances could be things like cleaning agents, plastics, or chemicals in disposable diapers This type of rash isn’t contagious, but it can cause a lot of discomfort for your baby.
Candidiasis likes warm, moist areas of the skin, like that of a wet diaper. Candidiasis may cause rashes, scaling, itching, and swelling. If the edges of the rash have small pustules, this may be a yeast rash.
How can you tell the difference between a regular diaper rash and a rash caused by ammonia “burn”? Well, the diaper itself will have a harsh ammonia or “fishy” smell. I always thought it looked like a severe sunburn, but that’s just my opinion.
A rash due to acidic poop would appear on the areas touched by the poop itself. This type of rash will lessen or go away between poops by allowing the affected area to be aired-out and using stay-dry liners like microfleece or hemp.
Diaper Rash Treatment at Home
Treating common diaper rash can usually be accomplished with some simple at-home treatments. Try the following at the first signs of a diaper rash:
Diapers should be changed more often than you usually do. During the daytime, check the diaper every two hours. You may need to change the diaper multiple times during the night to clear up a rash.
Use an extra absorbent disposable diaper or if using cloth diapers use extra microfleece or hemp liners to remove excess moisture from the babies skin.
The skin should be washed with very mild soap, and air dried or lightly pat dry with a soft cloth. Avoid any “scrubbing” action, which could cause even more damage to the babies skin.
After washing, the skin should be exposed to air. This is what we diaper mama’s simply call airing out. For me, this works the best for my daughter! I have also used a hair dryer on it’s lowest warm setting. I do this because it ensures the entire area is completely dry, without any rubbing involved! * CAUTION: BE SURE THE DRYER IS ON LOW!! Anything else could cause you to accidentally burn your baby!!
Avoiding using wipes because the alcohol may hurt or cause the rash to become worse. Avoiding detergents may be a good idea. Try using plain water to clean the skin and chemical free cleaners to wash cloth diapers. (approved by the manufacturer of your diapers of course!) If you use cloth diapers, avoid using plastic pants during this time. Allergic reaction rashes or contact dermatitis can be remedied by avoiding new soaps or detergents that may be causing the outbreak. Stop using baby powder. The powder clumps up in the folds of the skin and holds moisture. This may cause bacteria to grow and cause an infection.
Certain foods may make the rash worse. If this happens, avoid giving your baby these foods until the rash has been resolved. Giving more fluids will make the urine less concentrated. Cranberry juice is a good idea for children over 12 months of age. Avoid using other juices. Some juices tend to cause the urine to be more irritating to the skin.
When my daughter gets a minor candida rash, I apply an over the counter anti-fungal cream. Of course, I’ve had five children, so this is not my first rodeo. You should never use anything unless you have discussed it with your doctor first. Check with your doctor before using any product made for an adult on a baby or child. Protecting the healthy skin near the rash with creams like Desitin, Diaparene, A&D Ointment, or zinc oxide may keep the rash from becoming worse or spreading. I personally like zinc oxide, it has always been an effective option for me, for plain diaper rash. Never apply creams or ointments to broken skin, as it may make things worse or at the very least may slow the natural healing process. Do not use cornstarch on a rash; it also allows bacteria to grow.
There are three natural alternatives I use for my daughter, not including essential oils.
- Witch hazel (winter bloom), a flowering plant, is excellent for diaper rash! It’s an astringent and calms the skin while healing. It reduces inflammation and helps clean the rash.
- Calendula and aloe vera. Aloe vera gel is used topically to treat wounds, skin infections, burns, and numerous other skin conditions. This treatment has been used for thousands of years!
- Shampoo clay (bentonite). Shampoo-clay heals diaper rash seven times faster than calendula according to a study by Nursing And Midwives.
- I’ve written a complete post about my Grandma Joans’ Witch Hazel Diaper Rash Spray, a homemade concoction that always works for me!
That Didn’t Work! Now What?
Add two tablespoons of baking soda to a baby tub and allowing the bay’s affected area to sit in the water for several minutes. Caution, do not bathe a baby until the umbilical cord has fallen off.
If you are using disposable diapers, try changing brands. Some babies have reactions to certain brands, while other babies are not affected at all. If you are using cloth diapers and do not want to switch to disposable diapers, try changing the detergent you are using to wash the cloth diapers. You could also try rinsing the cloth diapers twice or use one fluid ounce of vinegar in the final rinse cycle for every gallon of water.
When to Seek Medical Care
A minor diaper rash usually does not require a visit to the pediatricians’ office. However, if keeping the diaper area clean and dry does not relieve the situation then it’s probably time to call your doctor for some assistance. If the rash does not get better despite treatment in 4-7 days or if the rash is getting significantly worse or has spread to other parts of the body then you should call your doctor.
Other reasons to call your doctor would be if the rash could be bacterial in nature, with symptoms such as a yellowish-colored crusting or pus-like drainage. This is called impetigo and needs to be treated with antibiotics. If you can not determine what is causing the rash or if the rash is accompanied by diarrhea lasting longer than two days, you should call your doctor. If your baby’s rash is mainly in the skin folds, this could be a yeast infection and would require medication. Also be watchful of the “diaper rash” spreading to other parts of the body such as the face, hands or back.
Call Your Doctor Now
You should call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if your baby has:
- Open Sores
- Signs of Infection
- Increased pain
- Red streaks leading from the rash.
- Pus draining from the rash.
- A fever.
Although it’s rare to require medical attention for a diaper rash, there are times when immediate attention is needed. Should your child appear to be in distress, severe pain, or if you notice rapid spread of the rash with fever, you should seek immediate medical attention.
What Kind Of Medical Treatment
If your baby appears to have a candidal infection, the doctor might recommend antifungal creams or medicines. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the doctor thinks the child has impetigo (a bacterial infection). A short course of mild topical steroid cream or ointment may be prescribed if the rash does not appear to be fungal in nature.
Going To The Doctor
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your babies condition by being prepared. Write these following questions and your answers on a piece of paper and take with you to the doctor. Trust me; he will be impressed that you’re so on top of things!
- How long has the rash been present?
- Has the rash changed since you first saw it?
- What home treatment have you tried? Did it help?
- Have you had problems with a rash in the diaper area before? If yes, when and how was it treated?
- Has there been any recent diarrhea?
- Are any prescription and nonprescription medicines being taken?
- Have antibiotics been taken recently?
- Has there been a change in diet?
- Are you using a new type of diaper or incontinence brief?
- Have you recently changed bathing or laundry products?
- Is there a history of family skin disorders or allergies?
- Does a caregiver have any yeast infection, particularly a vaginal yeast infection?
- Are any health risks present?
The information contained on this website is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these products.
Ravanfar P, Wallace J, Nicole C. Diaper Dermatitis: a review and update. Current Opinion in Pediatrics. Volume 24(4), August 2012, p 472–479
Horii K and Prossick A. “Overview of Diaper Dermatitis in infants and children.” UpToDate.com, version 18.2, accessed 9/27/10.
Weston W and Howe W. “Treatment of atopic dermatitis.” UpToDate.com, version 18.2, accessed 9/27/10.
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