Almost every baby will experience diaper rash at some point in the diaper-wearing years. Rashes range from mild to severe and can cause a slight annoyance or a massive upset for you and your baby. Don’t leave yourself guessing as to what to do when a rash appears. Take a look at these basics on how to treat and prevent diaper rash, as well as when to seek help from your pediatrician.
Preventing Diaper Rash
The first line of defense to keep your baby from getting diaper rash is to change his diaper often and keep his bottom dry. Urine and feces can be very irritating to a baby’s sensitive skin, so changing a diaper as soon as you know it is soiled will help ward off any skin breakdown.
Secondly, give your baby’s tushie some time to air out. Skin needs exposure to air to fully dry and breathe. It may be risky, but after a bath, let your little one play on the floor on a towel or blanket that washes easily. Definitely avoid the couch and your clean crib sheets in case of an accident – you have enough laundry on your hands already!
Finally, increase diaper changes and up your diapering game during high-risk diaper rash times. Did you know that babies are far more prone to diaper rashes while on antibiotics, when they’re teething, and when new foods are introduced? Pretty much any time you expect a change in consistency of poop, your baby is at risk for developing diaper rash. Watch out for high heat and increased moisture times, too, such as long car rides in the car seat or longer stays at the pool. If you’re in the midst of one of these occasions, increase your diaper changing frequency, provide more time for airing out, and consider using a diapering cream or petroleum jelly consistently to protect your little one’s skin.
Treating the Rash
Most diaper rashes can be treated at home and will resolve over a few days. When your baby’s bottom is red and irritated, start by using water only to clean his diaper area. You can accomplish this by using wipes marketed as “water only,” or by simply wetting a cloth with water. You might also spray his little bottom with a water bottle and clean with dry wipes. Whatever method you choose, be careful to gently rinse his sore booty and blot dry, as opposed to wiping or rubbing with a lot of pressure.
After you ensure that his diaper area is completely clean and dry, you can move onto topical creams. The most effective creams for treating diaper rash contain zinc and/or petroleum jelly. Look for creams that are marketed specifically for diaper rash and do not include fragrances or a ton of unpronounceable ingredients. Cream should be applied liberally and cover the diaper rash so a barrier is formed to protect the irritated skin from urine and poop which can cause discomfort and make the rash worse.
Here’s a pro tip: If your baby has a diaper rash due to diarrhea or increased stools from antibiotics or a gastrointestinal illness, apply Mylanta with a cotton ball to the rash, allow to dry, and apply a thick layer of diaper cream. This works wonders!
When to Call the Doctor
While most rashes resolve over a few days, some will need the help of a prescription medication or a diagnosis from the doctor. A rash that spreads beyond the diaper area or is associated with a fever may indicate a virus or infection that should be evaluated by a pediatrician. Additionally, some rashes may be caused by a fungal or bacterial infection of the skin and may require a prescription for treatment. If your baby’s bottom isn’t improving after three days of home treatment, or if the skin is bleeding, oozing, or blistered, you should contact your pediatrician for advice.