A diaper rash is a common skin irritation found in infants that commonly results from prolonged exposure to a soiled diaper. Diaper rash can also occur if your child has diarrhea or upon the introduction of solid foods or new types of nutrition to his or her diet. Diaper rash is most common in the first year of life, though it can be present any time a child wears a diaper.
Signs and Symptoms
Diaper rash is characterized by a pattern of red, raised bumps. This irritated, puffy looking skin occurs on the thighs, buttocks, and genital area. The skin may be warm to the touch. In addition to the rash itself, you may notice that your baby is fussy during diaper changes when this rash is present.
Even the most diligent parents will likely have to deal with diaper rashes when their child is small. The moisture that is in contact with the skin when your baby's diaper is soiled forms ammonia when it hits the air. This is irritating to the skin, particularly for infants with very sensitive skin. The moist environment also allows yeast to develop, so yeast infections often coexist with diaper rash. For that reason, if your child is on antibiotics, diaper rash is more likely to occur.
Over-the-counter cream combined with more frequent diaper changes is the most effective way to resolve diaper rash. Make sure to wash your hands before and after changing your child's diaper. Use only plain water to wash the diaper area, or a very mild cleanser if your child has a bowel movement. Avoid wipes that have added fragrances or alcohol. After cleaning, pat the child's bottom dry with a clean washcloth. Avoid rubbing the skin. Before replacing a clean diaper, rub the affected skin with a zinc oxide or petroleum cream, available over the counter at the drugstore. If a yeast infection is also present, a prescription cream may be necessary.
Fortunately, simple home treatment is usually effective in treating diaper rash within a few days. However, you should be alert for signs that may indicate a more serious problem. Consult your child's pediatrician if the rash is very severe, worsens with treatment rather than improving, accompanied by a fever, develops blisters or boils, or if your child is very sleepy or has other behavioral symptoms.
If you find that diaper rash is a chronic problem for your baby, try switching the type of disposable diapers you use or changing your detergent if you use cloth diapers.