Diaper Rash – Reasons, Signs & Treatment

Diaper Rash – Identification, Causes, and Remedies

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

A baby’s skin is sensitive. If you notice that your baby’s skin is reddish, and has small rashes in the area covered by the diaper, then your baby might have diaper rash. Diaper rash is very common in babies, and parents need to tend to it in the first year of their child’s life. The skin affected by diaper rash may look puffy with a few prickly spots or even have large red bumps (usually spread on the thighs and tummy).

Video: Diaper Rash in Babies – Symptoms, Causes and Remedies

What Is Diaper Rash?

Diaper rashes may appear once your baby starts wearing diapers. It affects the skin under the diaper. Baby diaper rash or diaper dermatitis is a common skin condition, which makes your baby’s skin red, sore and tender.

This generally affects infants and toddlers below the age of 2. If your baby’s bottom looks irritated and you can see rashes on it, then chances are that your baby has yeast diaper rash. This kind of diaper rash occurs due to a yeast infection. Skin affected by a yeast diaper rash will also feel warm when you touch it.

Types of Diaper Rash

Diaper rashes can be of different types. The common ones are:

1. Contact Diaper Rashes

These are the result of keeping your baby in a wet diaper for a long time. Such rashes are often not too serious.

2. Yeast Rashes

These usually appear on the folds of your baby’s skin.

3. Allergy

An allergy can also lead to rashes in the diaper area.

4. Rashes Due to Acidity

Rashes can also appear if your baby’s stool is too acidic.

Signs of Diaper Rash

A diaper rash might be caused by a variety of reasons, such as the baby’s urine, or the introduction of a new food. Although it is a transitory issue, the irritated skin might cause discomfort to the baby for a few days. Recognising diaper rash and taking preventive and remedial measures will go a long way in ensuring your baby’s comfort. Here are a few signs to look out for in babies who wear diapers.

The symptoms of yeast diaper rash include:

  • Rashes on the baby’s bottom: If you see pink or red patches on your baby’s bottom, it can be a sign of diaper rash.
  • Bumps on the baby’s bottom and thighs: Bumps which appear on the baby’s bottom and thighs may be a diaper rash. These bumps may be red and filled with a fluid.
  • Scaling: Peeling or scaling of the skin in the diaper area may be a sign of diaper rash.
  • Bleeding: The skin on baby’s bottom may bleed if she has severe diaper rash.
  • Dryness: Dry skin on the baby’s bottom may be a sign of diaper rash.
  • A rise in temperature: If the skin covered by the diaper is warmer than the rest of the body, this may be a sign of diaper rash.
  • A fussy baby: If your baby cries while you are cleaning the diaper area, it may be because of diaper rash

If diaper rash is not treated on time, it can lead to fever and the rashes may spread to other parts of your baby’s skin as well.

Signs of Diaper Rash

How Do Babies Get Diaper Rash?

There are many causes of diaper rash. Starting from your baby’s own urine to infection, some of the common culprits are:

1. Wetness

Even the best diapers leave behind some moisture on the skin. When this moisture mixes with the bacteria present in your baby’s stool, the stool breaks down and forms ammonia. Ammonia is a prime cause of these rashes. This is why babies who suffer from diarrhoea are more prone to diaper rashes. Babies who are left in soiled or wet diapers for too long are also likelier to get rashes.

2. Tight Diapers

They can cause sweating and increase heat generation in your baby’s body. This, in turn, accentuates the pH level of your baby’s skin and makes it more susceptible to rashes. Friction with the diaper can make the situation worse.

3. Chemical Sensitivity and Chafing

The rubbing of the baby’s soft skin against the diaper may cause rashes. Also, if your baby skin is sensitive to chemicals such as the fragrances used in the case of some disposable diapers, there is further increase in the chance of developing rashes. Remains of laundry detergent in a cloth diaper can also be one of the causes of diaper rash. The chemicals in some baby wipes, baby powder and other products may be a potential reason for the rashes too.

4. New Foods

Diaper rash can also appear if you have introduced new foods into your baby’s diet or he has started solid food. The change of diet will also change the composition of your baby’s stool. The acid in certain fruits and fruit juices can cause rashes. The frequency of bowel movement can increase due to the changes in your baby’s food habits, leading to rashes. If you are still nursing your baby, there are also chances that the rashes can be a reaction to something you ate.

5. Yeast or Bacterial Infection

The skin under the diaper is warm and moist, which acts as the perfect environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive. Bacteria and yeast can flourish easily there and more so inside the folds and of the baby’s skin.

6. Antibiotics

Is your baby on antibiotics? Or are you taking antibiotics and breastfeeding your child? At times, antibiotics kill the healthy bacteria that could fight the harmful ones, leading to a yeast infection.

Test and Exams

The diagnosis of diaper rash is based on physical examination of your baby’s rashes and the medical history. A lab test is not a necessity in most cases. However, if the doctor thinks that the rashes are your baby’s allergic reaction to an allergen, he may perform a skin test to know what the allergen is.

Treatment & Drugs for Diaper Rash in Babies

The procedure used for treatment depends on how serious the rashes are. If the rashes are mild, you will be able to treat the rashes yourself, by keeping the area clean and dry. Do make sure you pat the skin dry instead of rubbing as chafing may add to the problem.

In severe cases, the doctor may recommend the use of a nappy rash cream. Several ointments for diaper rash are available in the local pharmacy and are effective in curing the infection. Make sure to use one prescribed by a doctor. If the rashes are allergic reactions, the doctor may recommend anti-allergy drugs after conducting the skin test.

How to Prevent Diaper Rash

Some ways to prevent diaper rash are:

  • Maintain dryness: It is important to keep your baby’s diaper area dry to prevent rashes.
  • Maintain hygiene: Make sure that your baby’s skin does not stay in contact with stool and urine for a long time. Change diapers as and when required and frequently check if it is soiled or wet. You might have to wake up at night to change diapers to prevent rashes. It is quite usual to change diapers 8 times in a day.
  • Clean right: Use warm water to clean your baby’s diaper area, and after cleaning, use a soft cloth to wipe the area. Use gentle baby soap only if the diaper was soiled. Avoid using baby wipes if your baby has a rash. Some wipes contain propylene glycol which is an alcohol and will burn your baby’s skin and cause the infection to spread.

How to Prevent Diaper Rash

  • Leave off diapers as much as possible: Give your baby enough ‘naked time’ so that his private areas can breathe free.
  • Choose the right diapers: Try and use diapers that offer maximum absorbency.
  • Introduce solids gradually: Introduce solid food one at a time, and wait for a few days in between before introducing the next one.
  • Wash the diapers well: If you are using cloth diapers, make sure you clean them properly. Use a mild and baby-friendly detergent to get rid of alkaline irritants.

Video : Best Ways to Prevent Diaper Rash in Babies

When Should One Be Concerned About Diaper Rash?

The above treatment methods and drugs are usually sufficient to get rid of these rashes. The rashes should be gone within 3-4 days. However, make sure you visit the doctor if the rashes appear infected. Some things that you need to be cautious about are:

  • If the rashes start affecting the other parts of your baby’s body
  • If there is pus formation in the rashes
  • If your baby has fever
  • If the rashes become redder and worse
  • If there are open sores of yellow patches
  • If your baby is less than 6 weeks old
  • If the rashes are accompanied with diarrhoea that continues for more than 2 days

You do not need a doctor to treat mild diaper rash. Make sure you keep your baby’s bottom dry and clean.

Home Remedies for Diaper Rash

Some effective natural remedies for diaper rash can help relieve the symptoms associated with it. These involve the use of natural ingredients that are readily available.

1. Coconut Oil

This is one of the best natural treatments available for diaper rash. Massage the diaper area with coconut oil gently to get rid of the rashes.

Coconut Oil

2. Shea Butter

If your baby has sensitive skin, you can apply shea butter. This will keep his skin soft and also fight a yeast infection.

3. A Warm Bath

This helps soothe the itching and burning. Soak the area in a tub containing warm water containing 1 tbsp of baking soda. Do this thrice a day. This is recommended for babies whose umbilical cords have fallen off and who are above the age of 1-2 weeks.

4. Diaper Rash Cream

Diaper rash cream with zinc oxide can be applied two to three times a day.

Conclusion: Diaper rash is common among babies and is one of the most frequent challenges of parenting. Maintain hygiene, change diapers frequently, and provide enough air exposure to prevent these rashes.

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