It’s an awful feeling. You go to change your baby’s diaper, and you notice her skin is bright red in the genital area. It looks extremely painful, and you are sure your baby is uncomfortable. You believe it is diaper rash. Not sure of what to do, you head to the emergency room. Finally, you get to see the doctor, and after waiting almost three hours, he confirms it is diaper rash and kindly informs you it could have been treated at home.
How could you have avoided this unnecessary trip to the emergency room? First of all, do not panic. Begin to educate yourself about diaper rash, its causes and its cures.
Most babies will get diaper rash at least once by the age of 3-years old. Typically children between 4-15 months will develop it because of the change of eating habits from liquid to solid food. Babies are usually doing more sitting during this time as well. There are several causes of diaper rash including diapers being too tight or wet diapers staying on too long.
What Causes Diaper Rash?
1. Wet Diapers Rubbing the Skin
This is the most common cause, and it comes from wet diapers continually rubbing the baby’s sensitive skin. You will notice a bright, red rash in the affected area.
2. External Irritants
Sometimes exposure to feces, urine or soaps can irritate the baby’s skin under the diaper. The acid in the baby’s bowel movements or urine can trigger the irritation.
Diaper rash caused by Candida usually happens after the baby has been given antibiotics. Candida is a fungus or yeast that thrives is warm, moist places.
4. Allergic Episode
A baby’s sensitive skin can have an allergic reaction to soaps, lotions or detergents. Some babies may even be allergic to diaper wipes.
5. Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis can affect the diaper area but is sometimes difficult to diagnose. This form of dermatitis appears as cradle cap or dandruff on the scalp but can also affect the chest and body folds. Within the body folds it is red with few if any scales.
Things You Can Do Before Calling Your Doctor
Once you have diagnosed the problem as diaper rash, there are simple things you can do to treat it.
- Make sure to keep the diaper area clean and dry by changing the diaper as soon as the baby has a bowel movement or urinates.
- You may need to avoid using diaper wipes with fragrances or even discontinue using them altogether until the rash heals.
- Pat the diaper area dry with a soft cloth or allow it to air dry to avoid irritating the area any further.
- You may use petroleum jelly or over-the-counter diaper rash medications (zinc oxide pastes) to create a barrier between the diaper and the skin as well as between the skin and stool/urine.
- Do not make the diaper too tight and make sure to wash your hands once you have finished.
When To Visit See Your Doctor
- If treatment has been unsuccessful after 2 to 3 days or symptoms continue to get worse.
- If the rash spreads to other parts of the body such as the abdomen, neck, face or arms.
- If you notice other skin eruptions like blisters, pimples, bumps or sores.
- If the baby develops a fever.
- If the rash occurs within the first few weeks after birth.
These are all cause for extra concern, and you should definitely have the baby examined by your doctor.
Seeing red under your baby’s diaper may be uncomfortable for the baby and disturb for you as a parent. Fortunately, most cases of diaper rash can easily be treated at home and even prevented.