Baby's First Year: How to Treat Diaper Rash

Dani Milton
December 1, 2020

Having a baby can be an exhilarating yet challenging experience. New parents are not only learning about their infant's temperaments; they are also finding out how their child's bodies react to their environment. Taking care of their baby's fragile skin is one of the most challenging things that mothers and fathers must learn to do. Diaper rash is a problem that most infants face. Grandparents can usually tell new parents how to deal with typical forms of the rash, but what if this skin condition is more serious? And when is it the right time to see a pediatrician? It’s important to have health insurance for your baby, especially in the first year. The good news is that you can buy health insurance any time during your newborn’s first year. If diaper rash is an infection, you’ll need to see a doctor. In this article, we'll discuss the most common types of diaper rash and their treatments.

What Is Diaper Rash?

Diaper rash is a patchwork of inflamed, bright red skin on your baby’s bottom. It develops when your child becomes sensitive because of moisture and bacteria. Infrequent diaper changes and tightly fitting fabric can also cause the condition. Although diaper rash usually affects infants, any person who regularly wears close-fitting underwear can develop the issue. If you’re a first-time parent, seeing a diaper rash on your little one’s skin may be worrying. Generally, this rash will clear up on its own. Over-the-counter remedies (like baby powders) and ointments can also help. Several at-home treatments can heal your infant’s skin, such as air-drying and increased diaper changes.

What Are the Symptoms of Diaper Rashes

If your infant develops a diaper rash, he or she may experience symptoms.

Skin issues – Your child may develop red, tender skin in the diaper region (the buttocks, thighs and genital region). Some rashes may have raised bumps or pustules.

Changes in their behavior – Your baby may cry during diaper changes because their skin is irritated. Additionally, they will fuss when you wash this region.

Most Common Causes of Types of Diaper Rash

There is no single cause for diaper rashes. If your little one’s skin has flared up in recent weeks, check the rash to see whether it falls into one of the following categories.

1. Candida dermatitis

Candida is a common yeast infection that may irritate the diaper region. Candida dermatitis causes red, inflamed plaques and patches in moist, enclosed areas like creases. They may also appear as red dots outside the infection’s primary area.

Baby girls can also develop an itchy, white discharge around their vaginal region. Infant boys may experience redness, inflammation and scaling on their penis. Children with candida dermatitis may also develop thrush, which is an oral yeast infection.

Antibiotics regimens and illnesses typically cause candida dermatitis in children. Breastfeeding mothers can also pass these yeast infections to their infants if they’re taking antibiotics. Most parents treat candida dermatitis with over-the-counter ointments. You can also ask your pediatrician to prescribe antifungal creams or drugs to treat your baby’s yeast infection. Candida dermatitis is hard to prevent. You can reduce the chances of your baby developing this rash by increasing their diaper changes. You can also ask your child’s pediatrician to prescribe probiotics to increase the good bacteria in your child’s intestinal tract. It will decrease candida yeast that can cause inflammation.

2. Allergic dermatitis

Fewer babies suffer from diaper rashes caused by allergic dermatitis, although it’s not rare. This dermatitis occurs when your infant develops an allergy to a product you’re using, such as lotions, wipes or soaps. With repeat use, your child will develop skin inflammation on the place you used the product.

Allergic dermatitis is shiny, red, and appears on extensive regions of your infant’s skin. These areas include the buttocks, genitals, abdomen, thighs and skin creases. Reactions to products can occur one to three weeks after initial exposure.

Over-the-counter diaper creams can help with the condition. A better strategy is to opt for fragrance-free and hypoallergenic products that won’t irritate your child’s skin. If your child’s diaper rash is severe, you can ask your pediatrician to prescribe steroid creams to reduce the inflammation.

To prevent allergic dermatitis, examine your baby’s diaper routine. Identify which products irritated their skin and ask yourself the following questions:

Have you changed diaper brands recently? If so, you may need to use diapers that don’t use harsh chemicals or dyes that can inflame your baby’s skin. Do you use wipes with alcohol, fragrances, or chemicals ingredients? If so, switch out these wipes for a soft cloth and warm water. Do you use cloth diapers for your child? If so, find out which brand of detergent you’re using. Your child may be allergic to it. Use products with fragrance-free, allergen-friendly formulas.

3. Bacterial Dermatitis

These rashes begin as tiny, infected areas that can quickly spread because of warm, moist areas within the diaper. Two bacteria cause bacterial dermatitis: Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus. These rashes present differently on the skin. Strep bacteria – The rash will appear bright red and appear around the anal region. The rash can spread to the genitals. Your infant may also have bloody feces.

Staph bacteria – Your child may have pus-filled bumps with raised heads. The blisters can burst, causing a yellowish-brown material to spill. Staph bacteria leave scaly patches after they rupture.

Strep and Staph rashes can become serious if left untreated. These pustules can bleed, and the sores can leave scars. Some infections can turn systemic and affect your child’s body.

You can’t treat strep infections with over-the-counter creams. Contact a pediatrician to examine your baby’s skin, especially if they have a fever of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or higher. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics like amoxicillin and penicillin to treat these infections. A follow-up appointment can ensure these treatments are successful.

It’s difficult to prevent this bacterial diaper rash completely. They are more likely to occur if your baby has irritated skin. Scratches and cuts around the diaper region can become infected when exposed to wetness or excrement.

Some measures that may decrease bacterial dermatitis include washing and patting dry your baby’s skin. If possible, try not to scratch or cut your baby’s skin. It can prevent bacteria from entering your child’s skin when it’s damaged. If you discover scratches, treat them with antibacterial ointments to prevent infections.

Additional Rashes that May Occur in the Diaper Region

If your baby’s rash doesn’t disappear with over-the-counter treatments, they may have a more serious skin condition. Here are other types of rashes that can occur in the diaper area.

1. Eczema

This skin condition may appear like a normal diaper rash, but it can become flaky, crusty, red and even purple. Sometimes, these blisters are dry, itchy and weep liquid.

Eczema occasionally causes diaper rash, although it will appear on other parts of the body. You can manage this condition by bathing and moisturizing your baby’s skin with fragrance-free ointments and creams. Switch your child’s products to hypoallergenic products that won’t irritate your infant’s skin.

Your baby may prescribe medicated ointments and baths for your child. Many children outgrow the condition by the time they turn five years old.

2. Psoriasis

This skin condition can also resemble diaper rashes or yeast infections on your baby’s bottom. It’s hard for even most pediatric dermatologists to distinguish between eczema and psoriasis. The treatment is similar for both conditions, so you can use prescription ointments to treat the skin.

3. Seborrheic Dermatitis

This condition can cause diaper rashes and other skin inflammation and other places in the body, including the scalp, face, and hair. This rash produces redness. It can also produce scaly, oily, yellow patches under the diaper and skin folds.

Doctors suspect a yeast called Malassezia causes this condition. It feeds on the oil secretions in the skin because of an irregular immune response. Most seborrheic dermatitis disappears on its own without treatment by the time your baby turns one-year-old.

4. Impetigo

This contagious skin infection is caused by the same bacteria that causes bacterial dermatitis. They are Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus.

Impetigo causes lesions and sores in the diaper region that ooze, rupture and spread to other parts of the body. They can occur around the mouth, hands, feet, nose and other regions. To control this infection, contact your child’s doctor to prescribe oral and topical antibiotics. They’ll need sustained treatment for 24 hours to prevent your child from passing this infection to other people.

5. Heat Rash

This rash, sometimes called prickly heat, causes tiny bumps on the skin. Heat rashes cause your baby to become hot. Additionally, they may suffer from breathing issues. You can spot heat rash around the creases and folds of your baby’s thighs and groin.

Unfortunately, the condition may cause sweat to block your little one’s pores. It can also create red bumps and itching. Thick creams and ointments can make the condition worse, so avoid using these products if you suspect heat rash. Instead, cool down the infected area, and provide increased airflow to the region until it heals.

Which Can Control Rashes Better? A Cloth Diaper or Disposable One?

Some parents are diehard advocates for cloth or disposable diapers when caring for their babies. Most childcare experts say there’s no evidence that cloth or disposable diapers are better at preventing these rashes. These professionals only recommend that parents buy diapers (or disposable brands) that don’t irritate the skin. Only use laundry soaps and other baby products that won’t inflame your child’s diaper region.

When to See a Pediatrician for Your Baby’s Diaper Rash

Although diaper rashes look uncomfortable, most parents don’t have to worry about this skin condition. The irritation doesn’t bother most babies unless there is an infection present. If this occurs, contact your child’s pediatrician. Here are a few signs you should contact a doctor about your baby’s diaper rash.

1. Your baby’s rash doesn’t improve – Have you been using over-the-counter diaper rash creams to treat your infant rash? Call your pediatrician if the rash doesn’t clear up within a few days.

2. Their skin rash hurts – Does your baby cry when you touch his or her rash? It may be cellulitis. The rash will look red, warm, and swollen.

3. Red lesions spread past your baby’s diaper area to its back, legs, and genitals. If their rash expands beyond the diaper area, it could be a sign of a bacterial or viral infection. It may also be a sign of a secondary fungal infection called candidiasis.

4. Your baby has a fever – When your infant develops a fever along with their rash, it is a sign they have a bacterial infection. Usually, a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher is a sign that you should visit a doctor.

5. There are red patches across the genitals, groin, and abdomen – If there are raised, rough, patches, it could indicate that your child has eczema. You can treat it with a mild steroid cream, like hydrocortisone ointment. Get a doctor’s diagnosis before administering this cream.

6. There are pus-filled sores – It may be a sign of a bacterial infection.

How to Treat Diaper Rash

The best way to treat diaper rashes is to keep your baby’s bottom clean and dry. If the rashes develop despite at-home treatment, your doctor may prescribe the following medicines:

A mild hydrocortisone (steroid cream)

An anti-fungal cream (if it is a fungal infection)

Topical or oral antibiotics (for bacterial infections)

Only use steroid creams or ointments to treat your baby’s rash only if the pediatrician or dermatologist recommends them. Frequent use of steroids can lead to other health issues, so use them sparingly.

It will take several days for your child’s diaper rash to improve. Even if it disappears, their rash may reoccur. If your child’s rash is stubborn, your doctor may recommend that your child see a pediatric dermatologist. They can diagnose and treat their skin condition.

At-Home Lifestyle Changes and Remedies to Treat Diaper Rash When treating your baby’s diaper rash, don’t use harsh products that can aggravate your child’s rash.

Put your baby in breathable clothing – Tight diapers, plastic coverings, and rubber pants can aggravate the condition. This material traps warmth and moisture, which promote bacterial growth.

Keep the diaper area clean and dry – After your baby soils their diaper, change it immediately. It may mean that you must get up in the middle of the night to clean them.

Once you’ve cleaned your baby, dry their skin, and apply a paste, cream, and ointment. Zinc oxide and petroleum jelly can protect the skin from moisture that can inflame the rash. Don’t scrub the region because that can inflame the area. If you need to remove excess product, use a cotton ball dipped in mineral oil.

Increase the air-flow to the area – Another way you can speed up the healing of diaper rash is to expose the region to air. Air out the region by allowing your baby to go without a diaper and ointment for short periods of time. Three times a day for 10 minutes each during naps can help.

Avoid airtight plastic pants and diaper covers. Use diapers that are larger than usual until the rash disappears.

Apply ointment, paste, cream, or lotion – There are effective OTC treatments for diaper rashes. Ask your child’s pediatrician or pharmacist for a recommendation. Some popular OTC products include A+D, Balmex, Destin, Triple Paste, and Lomitrin (for yeast infections).

The active ingredient in most diaper rash products is zinc oxide. You can apply it to the rash throughout the day to soothe it. A thin application is usually effective.

Bathe your child daily – Establish a regular bathing schedule to clean your infant’s diaper region when it is dirty or inflamed. Use gentle, fragrance-free, and allergen-free cleansers on their skin.

If your child continues to have skin issues, you may need to take them to a pediatrician or a pediatric dermatologist to treat their condition. Your insurance plan may cover most of these services. If not, you can search for a plan that does through SmartFinancial. Our transparent insurance platform can help you find insurance coverage from local agents within your area. You’ll only need to fill out a short form on our site, and we’ll provide you with multiple quotes within your local area. We’re the smart, sensible way to buy insurance coverage.

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