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Diaper Rash: How to treat it and have a happy baby

Diaper Rash: How to treat it and have a happy baby

Bringing your new baby home is an exciting time. After all of the anticipation, the labor and delivery, and meeting your new baby, then comes the daily tasks of taking care of the little one. Among the things that you will encounter with any baby is diaper rash. 

Diaper rash is just one of those facts of living with a new baby that you need to attend to. And you will likely receive an endless stream of suggestions and remedies to take care of diaper rash. Some of these will be helpful, some not so helpful. But you will need to attend to diaper rash if you hope to have any peace with a fussy uncomfortable baby. 

While diaper rash is not a serious problem and can be dealt with by using over-the-counter remedies, it is something that absolutely must be treated.  First, diaper rash causes discomfort and pain for your baby. Second, a baby suffering from a diaper rash will be impossible to soothe. Therefore, treating diaper rash in the most effective ways is in everyone's best interest. 

What exactly is diaper rash? What causes diaper rash? How do you tell diaper rash from something more serious? And what are the best ways to treat diaper rash? After all, you want a healthy happy baby, and a healthy happy baby makes for a happy mom. 

What is a Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is like any other rash in most respects. It is when the skin becomes irritated and inflamed. Most babies will develop diaper rash, and it affects up to 35 percent of all children under the age of two years. 

Diaper rash is medically called diaper dermatitis. It causes an uncomfortable and sometimes painful burning and redness in areas of the skin that come in contact and rub against a diaper. The presence of urine and feces compounds this condition. 

We will focus on the common form of diaper rash described above which responds to simple treatments and can largely be dealt with by frequently changing the baby’s diaper. However, other things cause more serious rashes. 

Other types of skin rashes that can be aggravated by a diaper are caused by more serious conditions. These include psoriasis, syphilis, HIV, and bullous impetigo. These conditions must be diagnosed by a physician. In nearly all cases, there would be medical reasons to explore these kinds of possibilities. 

Diaper Rash Treatment

Diaper Rash Treatment

Diaper rash causes the skin to appear red and irritated. The skin may sometimes feel warm to the touch. If the rash persists longer than 48 hours, you should contact a doctor. If there is a strong odor of urine, you should also contact a doctor since this can be a sign of dehydration. 

Sometimes the rash may develop blisters that become weepy. If this continues it may lead to fever. You should contact a physician if either of these symptoms occurs. 

Generally, a baby will signal diaper rash by becoming extremely fussy after soiling a diaper. The discomfort of diaper rash is especially pronounced with a dirty diaper. 

Causes of Diaper Rash

Diaper rash develops when a babysits for too long in a dirty diaper. Things like diarrhea can make the condition worse. Some babies who do not develop diaper rash early on will later develop diaper rash when they start eating solid food. Things like taking antibiotics can also lead to the development of diaper rash. 

Babies dirty diapers about every three or four hours on average. It is important to stay on top of this and change diapers as soon as they are soiled. The acidic nature of human waste will inevitably cause skin irritation. This nature of human waste is also conducive for the growth of bacteria and yeast which also contribute to diaper rash. 

Occasionally, diapers do not fit properly or are simply too tight. This can cause chafing and lead to diaper rash. Some chemicals in things like detergents or other products can lead to skin irritation which leads to diaper rash. 

When you introduce any new product into your baby’s diet or onto their skin, this too may lead to diaper rash. Anything from fabric softeners to a new brand of disposable diapers can lead to a reaction with the skin of a baby. Some powders and essential oils can also cause a baby’s skin to flare up and lead to diaper rash. 

There are bacterial and yeast infections that will appear as a diaper rash. These will spread out over the buttocks, thighs, and genitals. A baby is especially vulnerable to these types of infections because wet and soiled diapers provide a fertile environment for the growth of bacteria and yeast. These will likely require medical treatment.  

Whenever you introduce new foods to a baby’s diet, they can change the chemical composition of their waste products, and this can lead to diaper rash. 

Some babies simply have sensitive skin. This is something you will learn about your baby, and something you need to address. Babies with sensitive skin require more frequent diaper changes and extra care with things like detergents and soaps. 

Antibiotics are a major cause of diaper rash. Any time your baby is required to take antibiotics there is an increased risk of diaper rash. Antibiotics change the pH of urine and other waste and this will inevitably lead to a skin reaction. You can treat this before it becomes a problem by using some kind of diaper rash prevention methods, which we will discuss below. 

Diaper Rash Prevention

Diaper Rash Prevention

Diaper rash is uncomfortable and even painful for your baby. It can make them fussy and miserable, and a miserable baby means an unhappy mom. Diaper rash is largely preventable. Taking some simple steps can help prevent diaper rash.

  • Wash your child’s bottom with water during each diaper change. 
  • Pat the baby’s body dry. 
  • Avoid using wipes that contain perfumes and alcohol. 
  • Keep diapers loose. 
  • You may also consider letting your baby go without a diaper from time to time. 
  • Things like zinc oxide and old-fashioned petroleum jelly can help protect a baby's sensitive skin. 

Diaper Rash Treatment

Diaper Rash Treatment

Most of the old treatments for diaper rash are still in use. Things like zinc oxide creams soothe the baby’s skin and provide a barrier to protect sensitive skin. 

In recent years, researchers, doctors, and parents have turned to diaper rash treatments that do not rely on synthetic ingredients that, while potentially effective, also contain toxic chemicals.

A recent article in the Scientific American Journal showed that diaper rash creams and treatments that use plant derivatives are quite effective. Particularly treatments that contain calendula which naturally fights inflammation of the skin and bacteria, the two main culprits in diaper rash. 

Topical creams and ointments are commonly used to treat diaper rash. They include:

  • Hydrocortisone to reduce swelling
  • Antifungal or antibiotic creams to combat infections (a doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics as well)
  • Zinc oxide
  • Creams and ointments containing steroids should be taken only at a doctor’s recommendation.

Other treatments for diaper rash may include a baking soda bath.

Baking soda is a highly alkaline form of salt that can neutralize the bacteria and acidity in a diaper rash caused by your baby staying too long in a poopy diaper. Poop is acidic and contains bacteria, so it quickly irritates an infant’s sensitive skin. Baking soda alkalizes the infected site, kills bacteria, lowers inflammation, and reduces redness.  

  • Soothe your baby’s bottom in a bowl of lukewarm water mixed with 2 tablespoons of baking soda. This quickly kills bacteria and neutralizes the pH of your baby’s skin. 
  • Let your baby’s bottom soak in the baking soda solution for 3 or so minutes. It shouldn’t cause stinging unless there is open skin. If your baby seems to enjoy it, let her get relief for a couple more minutes. 

Some people have used coconut oil as a salve, particularly when mixed with a little lavender. 

Since coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it's easy to apply to your baby’s bum after each diaper change with minimal mess, compared to other oils. In its unrefined, extra-virgin form, coconut oil is filled with therapeutic compounds for your baby’s skin. It can help treat a diaper rash. The lauric and capric acid in coconut oil kills bacteria and provides moisture. Meanwhile, the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil energize the healing process for skin cells by fueling their mitochondria. 

Lavender essential oil is one of the gentlest essential oils on the skin, and it's even safe for babies (in diluted form). Combining lavender oil with coconut oil adds additional hydration and antimicrobial activity. Lavender oil also contains medicinal compounds that activate and accelerate the regeneration of skin tissue and the laying down of more collagen. Given that lavender oil has a healing effect in virtually every skin condition, from burns to acne, it's no surprise that it helps with diaper rash. 

Diaper rash FAQs

What is diaper rash? 

Diaper rash is like any other rash in most respects. It is when the skin becomes irritated and inflamed. Most babies will develop diaper rash, and it affects up to 35 percent of all children under the age of two years. Diaper rash is medically called diaper dermatitis. It causes an uncomfortable and sometimes painful burning and redness in areas of the skin that come in contact and rub against a diaper. The presence of urine and feces compounds this condition. 

What are the symptoms of diaper rash? 

Diaper rash causes the skin to appear red and irritated. The skin may sometimes feel warm to the touch. If the rash persists longer than 48 hours, you should contact a doctor. If there is a strong odor of urine, you should also contact a doctor since this can be a sign of dehydration. 

What causes diaper rash? 

Diaper rash develops when a baby sits for too long in a dirty diaper. Things like diarrhea can make the condition worse. Some babies who do not develop diaper rash early on will later develop diaper rash when they start eating solid food. Things like taking antibiotics can also lead to the development of diaper rash. 

How do you prevent diaper rash? 

You can prevent diaper rash by cleaning your baby’s skin during each diaper change and by applying things like zinc oxide creams and petroleum jelly to create a protective barrier on the baby’s skin. 

How do you treat diaper rash?

The best treatment is prevention with things like zinc oxide creams. Some recent research shows that creams that contain calendula provide natural resistance to bacteria and other things that lead to diaper rash. Things like a baking soda bath can neutralize the acids in waste that cause diaper rash and provide soothing relief for your baby’s sore bottom. 

Conclusion

Bringing your new baby home is one of the most exciting times. After all, when you go through labor and delivery, the time when your baby comes home and takes his or her place in the family is a special time. But this is also when the daily realities set in. Diaper rash is one of those realities. 

Diaper rash is extremely common. It is the result of the highly sensitive skin of a baby as they come in contact with the waste in the diaper. These waste products can irritate the skin and cause inflammation and pain. 

Although extremely common, diaper rash must be dealt with. Diaper rash causes pain and discomfort and these are the last things you want for your baby. This is not to mention that diaper rash causes a baby to become extremely fussy. 

The old-fashioned treatments like petroleum jelly and zinc oxide creams are still sound and prevent diaper rash. Newer creams for the treatment of diaper rash include ingredients like calendula which naturally fight bacteria. In any case, treating diaper rash is quite simple. Often it just requires more frequent diaper changes and cleaning with a warm washcloth.