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What causes a diaper rash and how can I treat it?

baby wearing a diaper

Key points:

  1. Diaper rashes are common despite efforts to maintain hygiene.
  2. Rashes result from factors like bacteria, moisture, and new products.
  3. Keep the diaper area clean, dry, use mild creams, and change diapers frequently.
  4. Seek medical advice if rashes persist or worsen after a few days, or if additional symptoms occur.

Diaper rashes are very common in babies. Despite your efforts of changing diapers frequently and cleaning their bottom well, your baby may experience it. The good news is that a diaper rash is generally easy to treat and can be cured in a few days. 

What causes a diaper rash?

When a baby has a diaper rash, the skin in the diaper area looks swollen, irritated, and red. Many things can cause it. Here is a list of the most frequent causes: 

  • When some bacteria, moisture, fungus, soap scum, feces, and urine are mixed in a diaper. These components, along with the natural body heat, can damage the top layer of the skin, resulting in a rash. 
  • Prolonged exposure to a dirty diaper.
  • Sometimes antibiotics eliminate both good and bad bacteria, and this can lead to a rash or infection.
  • The introduction of new products, such as cleaning or detergent wipes, lotions, or new baby powder may irritate your child’s skin.
  • Likewise, the introduction of solid foods will change the components and frequency of feces.

How do I treat a diaper rash?

To treat a diaper rash, it is very important to keep your baby’s skin as clean and dry as possible. If you use wipes, try to reduce their use or avoid them while the skin is reddish, even if they are hypo-allergenic. Instead, clean the affected area with water and cotton, gently patting the skin without rubbing it. After cleaning, don’t forget to let the skin dry completely. Once your baby is dry, put on a new diaper. You can opt for a slightly larger diaper and loose clothing so that the diaper is not too close to the skin, and it stays dry.

You can apply protective cream that doesn’t contain fragrances, preservatives, or ingredients that can irritate your baby’s skin or be harmful when absorbed. It’s best to choose a mild cream containing zinc oxide. Consult your pediatrician, they will recommend the best options. Remember not to use home remedies without first consulting with your doctor.

What can I do to prevent a diaper rash?

  • Change your baby’s diaper frequently.
  • Avoid diapers with high absorption (these are usually changed less).
  • Avoid using too many baby wipes.
  • Let the skin dry out completely before putting on a new diaper.
  • Wash your hands before and after changing a diaper.
  • If your baby uses cloth diapers, make sure they are very clean and the detergent used is mild, fragrance-free, and rinse them out twice.
  • Make sure your baby’s diapers are not too tight so that the skin can breathe.

When should I consult my pediatrician?

If the rash doesn’t improve after 3 or 4 days, and pimples, blisters, pus, or fever appear, don’t hesitate to consult your pediatrician. Especially if the rash spreads outside of the diaper area or you see that it is severe.

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