10 Proven Tips for Diaper Rash

Infants are prone to experience diaper rash. Here you can learn more on how to identify a diaper rash, what causes them and find out 10 proven tips to help treat your baby’s diaper rash.

What is diaper rash?

A diaper rash, also known as irritant diaper dermatitis, is defined as a patchwork of tender, red skin that occurs in the diaper region of an infant. Diaper rash is a common skin rash that occurs in up to one third of infants between ages 4 and 15 months. Diaper rashes are very common, often self-diagnosable and can be easily detected.

The rash is usually inflamed and may cause redness, inflammation, peeling, itchiness, pimples and blisters around the area. You may notice discomfort in your baby during diaper changes (e.g. crying, bodily changes when washing, cleaning or touching the rash).

Most diaper rash symptoms can quickly improve between 1-3 days after at-home skin care (e.g. over-the-counter ointment and frequent diaper changes).

If your baby’s rash does not improve, speak with your doctor for additional guidance. Severe reactions can cause fevers and more rash development.

It is important to examine if the rash worsens through signs of bleeding and oozing. If your baby experiences painful urination and/or bowel movement, consult with your doctor immediately. Your doctor may prescribe medication for the rash.

If you are not sure whether your baby is experiencing a diaper rash or skin infection, contact your doctor or dermatologist. Early signs of a skin infection can include a fever, blisters and possible pus surrounding the rash area.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), you can determine whether your baby has a possible skin infection if the rash does not appear to heal after treatment or if it worsens.

If you have more questions or concerns regarding your baby’s diaper rash or related rash, consult with a board-certified dermatologist. In addition to seeing your doctor, dermatologists specialize in rash treatment.

What causes diaper rashes?

Most of the time, a moist diaper will cause a diaper rash. This happens when your baby’s diaper is not changed on a regular basis. Infrequent diaper changing is a major cause, but newly introduced medications, environmental changes and food allergens (e.g. peanut, egg and milk) can also cause a diaper rash. Because your baby’s skin is highly sensitive, longer exposure to either pee or poo will cause discomfort and irritation.

Usually, it is recommended to change a newborn’s diaper every two to three hours. The amount of times you change your baby’s diaper will lessen as he or she becomes older in age.

As we know, every baby is different and requires different amounts of diaper changes each day. Understand and follow your baby’s patterns because they may change on a daily basis.

Introducing new medications, like antibiotics, can also cause your baby to have a diaper rash. Diarrhea is also a symptom. Diet and food changes can cause a diaper rash, too.

Additionally, tight diapers and clothing can cause a diaper rash. Exposure to new products such as baby wipes, disposable diapers, lotions, baby powders, detergents and fabric softeners can cause a diaper rash too. This is because these products often include certain ingredients that cause irritation.

Changes in your baby’s pH levels and exposure to bacterial and/or yeast infections can also develop a diaper rash. These rashes can be seen as red dots around the creases of your baby’s skin.

Learn more from Pediatrician Dr. Trina Blythe on everything you need to know about diaper rash:

10 Tips to Help Prevent and Treat a Diaper Rash:

1. Change your baby’s diaper often.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), states that the best tip for treating and preventing a diaper rash is to change your baby’s diaper as soon as possible. The best way to decrease the likelihood of a diaper rash is to maintain that your baby’s diaper is clean and dry. The following strategies can help prevent a diaper rash:

    • Gently clean your baby with warm water using soap, washcloths or baby wipes.
    • Make sure to use hypoallergenic, alcohol and fragrance-free soap and baby wipes.
    • Gently dry the skin with a clean towel to avoid irritation.
    • Make sure the diaper is not too tight to avoid chafing and allow proper airflow to the skin.
    • Always wash your hands before and after diaper changes to avoid the spread of any bacteria.

    2. Use ointment regularly.

    Applying ointment during each diaper change can help prevent irritation. Applying ointments is especially important if your baby’s skin continues to appear red. If your baby has a severe diaper rash, make sure to completely cover the rash with layers of ointment. Try using time-proven, alcohol and fragrance-free ingredients like:

      • Petroleum jelly
      • Zinc Oxide

      3. Choose the right diaper for your baby’s skin.

      Whether you decide to use disposable or cloth diapers, use what works best for you and your baby.

      Here’s everything you need to know about disposable v. cloth diapers:

      Pros of Using Disposable Diapers

      • The main benefit of disposable diapers is the convenience factor. Simply throwing away the used diaper is much easier for some parents than cleaning a cloth diaper.
      • Today, there are a lot more disposable diaper options. Many of these newer diapers are made with greener materials and provide more sizing options.
      • Disposable diapers also provide more airflow and keep babies dry for a longer period of time.

      Cons of Using Disposable Diapers

      • Disposable diapers may contain ingredients like gels and dyes that cause more irritation for your baby.
      • Some disposable diapers are made with a “super gel”, also known as sodium polyacrylate. The super gel can cause serious health issues related to skin irritation and even toxic shock syndrome.
      • Disposable diapers are also more costly than reusable diapers.
      • Disposable diapers rip more easily than cloth diapers and require expensive sourcing materials.
      • Disposable diapers have a negative environmental impact.

      Pros of Using Cloth Diapers

      • As we’ve learned, cloth diapers are indeed reusable.
      • Reusable diapers are also more cost friendly. Each year, parents save almost half on cloth diapers when compared to the amount spent on disposable diapers.
      • Cloth diapers are known to be eco-friendly and better for the environment than disposable diapers. In fact, cloth diapers have proven to be up to 40% less harmful for the environment.
      • Cloth diapers are more gentle for your baby’s skin because they are made with natural ingredients (e.g. cotton and hemp).
      • Cloth diapers do not contain synthetic or chemical materials.
      • Cloth diapers have fewer health risks when compared to disposable diapers.
      • Some cloth diapers are waterproof and help keep any waste from leaking out.

      Cons of Using Cloth Diapers

      • Cloth diapers can absorb less than disposable diapers.
      • Cloth diapers need more attention and deep cleaning.
      • Because cloth diapers are reusable, it is important to follow the right safety steps to safely clean your baby’s cloth diaper.

      How do you properly clean a cloth diaper?

      Always prepare cloth diapers before changing your baby by following these easy steps:

      • Always dispose of waste.
      • Cold rinse the cloth diaper.
      • Dry wash the cloth diaper with hot water in a washing machine.
      • Do not use detergents that include harmful ingredients. Use fragrance-free detergents. Using bleach to kill all bacteria and germs is also recommended.
      • Rinse the cloth diaper with either warm or cold water. Using warm water is better for disinfecting.
      • When drying, dry on low.
      • Do not use dryer sheets made with fragrances. You can also dry your cloth diaper using a clothing line.

      4. Apply ointments to diaper rash.

      The following ointments are safe for your baby’s diaper rash only if recommended by your doctor.

      • Mild hydrocortisone cream
      • Anti-fungal creams only if your baby has a fungal infection. Confirm this with your doctor.
      • Topical and oral antibiotics can also be prescribed by your doctor to help treat a bacterial or yeast infection.

      5. At home self-care practices.

      Diaper rashes can be successfully treated at home through daily baths, regular diaper changes and applying over-the-counter ointments.

      6. Try all natural remedies.

      Diaper rashes can be successfully treated at home through daily baths, regular diaper changes and applying over-the-counter ointments.

      • Aloe Vera
      • Baking Soda
      • Witch hazel
      • Human breast milk
      • Other natural remedies: honey, olive oil.

      7. Do not use powders that include talcum or cornstarch.

      Although using powders has always been a part of a traditional diaper changing routine, doctors no longer recommend using certain powders. Babies inhale powders, causing irritation to your baby’s lungs.

      8. Try limiting the amount of time your baby spends in a diaper.

      Increasing air flow by bare-bottoming and air-drying are natural and safe ways to let your baby’s bottom dry. Try sitting your baby on a clean towel during play-time before changing the diaper.

      9. Check your baby’s diaper often.

      Keeping track of your baby’s patterns through logging. Using apps, simple baby log books or even self-logging on your phone are easy ways to do this.

      10. Keep track of any changes in your baby’s routine.

      This includes new medications and foods that may cause food allergy rashes. Learn more about food allergy rashes and other types of rashes.

      Introduce Allergens Safely and Easily with Ready. Set. Food!

      All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

      These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  If your infant has severe eczema, check with your infant’s healthcare provider before feeding foods containing ground peanuts.