Women's  Healthcare Topics is a website about pregnancy and your newborn baby.

Diaper Rash Prevention and Treatment

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Diaper Rash is Preventable and Easily Treated

This article is to help you care for a baby with diaper rash.

Diaper rash is a common albeit unpleasant side effect of wearing diapers 24 hours per day. Most newborn babies will have diaper rash at least once during their diaper wearing years.

The good news is that diaper rash is often preventable and easily treated when caught early.

Diaper Rash Signs

How do you know if your newborn has diaper rash? The most common sign is irritation, inflammation and redness in the genital region, particularly in the folds of the legs and on the buttocks, though it may spread to the stomach.

The affected area sometimes will look bumpy or appear to have a rash of pimples. It is important that diaper rash is treated right away because it can grow into a hard to beat yeast or bacterial infection if left too long.

Causes of Diaper Rash

The primary cause of a diaper rash is constant exposure to wetness. Newborns are particularly susceptible because they urinate several times per day and often have loose and wet bowel movements, which are even more likely to irritate the surrounding skin.

There are many highly absorbent diapers available now that make it difficult to determine whether or not a baby has urinated, thus many baby's are wet before their parents even realize it.

Wet diapers are not the only cause of diaper rash however. It is important that you know that some babies simply have very sensitive skin, thus are more susceptible to all kinds of skin rashes including diaper rash. Diarrhea is often another common cause of diaper rash, because it irritates the skin much more than normal bowels.

Treatment of Diaper Rash

Balmex Diaper Rash Ointment with Aloe & Vitamin E will soothe your baby's irritated bottom and help prevent future rashes. Simply smooth the ointment on liberally with every diaper change. At cleaning time, you'll find that Balmex wipes off easily. With their diaper rash under control, babies can go back to more important things ... like learning their first words.

Desitin Diaper Rash Ointment's creamy, fresh scent was specially formulated to provide the effective diaper rash care you expect from DESITIN in a smooth, creamy ointment formula. It spreads on easily, cleans off quickly, and has a fresh scent. And it's hypoallergenic and pediatrician-tested, so it is gentle on our baby's tender skin. For diaper rash treatment and protection, nothing works better and nothing is easier to use than DESITIN Creamy.

Johnson's Baby Diaper Rash Cream with Zinc Oxide has a unique 3-in-1 formula that promotes effective healing, soothes red, irritated skin and forms a protective barrier. It contains zinc oxide and skin conditioners such as lanolin, petrolatum and Vitamins E and B5. The hypoallergenic, fragrance free formula spreads smoothly and wipes off easily, and you can trust it to help treat the rash effectively yet gently, as it makes your baby feel better.

Balmex Diaper Rash Ointment (Zinc Oxide) with Aloe and Vitamin E helps treat and prevent diaper rash. Apply ointment liberally as often as necessary, with each diaper change, especially at bedtime or any time when exposure to wet diapers may be prolonged. Active ingredients: Zinc Oxide 11.3%.

If you notice that your baby has a particularly inflamed case of diaper rash that doesn't clear up after a few days of treatment, be sure to contact your healthcare provider to ensure that a yeast or  bacterial infection hasn't developed.

Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter anti-yeast cream such as Clotrimazole (brand name Lotrimin AF Antifungal Cream) or may write a prescription for Nystatin ointment (Mycostatin). Both creams are very effective for treating yeast infections.

Diaper rashes caused by bacteria appear as blister-like sores and the skin is red and warm to touch. If the area is infected due to bacteria, Mupirocin ( Bactroban ) antibiotic cream may be sometimes prescribed.

Many doctors will recommend a corticosteroid cream such as hydrocortisone along with an anti-yeast cream, to reduce inflammation. Many prescription creams, such as Mycolog II contain both a corticosteroid and an anti-yeast medicine which are very effective.

Remember a diaper rash, while common in newborns, is easily treated and often only a minor problem when addressed early on.If the diaper rash is associated with a fever or a rash that lasts longer than three days, be sure to contact your health care provider.

Prevention of Diaper Rash

  • Change your baby's diaper before and after feeds if possible. Most newborns will need a diaper change at least 8-10 times per day.

  • Consider allowing your baby to go without a diaper for an hour a day. Simply let them lay on a towel for a short spell. This is particularly useful for treating an already existing rash.

  • Allow your baby's bottom to thoroughly dry after cleaning and before you put on a new diaper.

  • Coat your baby's genitals with a layer of diaper rash ointment if your baby has a rash or has particularly sensitive skin.
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