The facts on Diaper Rash in Children
If you are a new mother or already have a few kids under your belt, then you know diaper rash can cause problems if not treated quickly and properly. The Pediatric Center understands that you may not have time to compile all the research about what’s best for your baby, so we’ve pulled the important facts together for you. After reading this quick paper about the basics of diaper rash, you’ll be more than ready if and when your child gets this common ailment.
What is a diaper rash?
What does a diaper rash in children look like? It’s important to know what to look for so you can determine if it’s serious, and whether you should take your child in to see a pediatrician at the Pediatric Center. Diaper rash develops on skin covered by a diaper, generally around the groin area and inside the folds on the thighs and bottom. Mild cases generally include slightly red and irritated skin, without causing much discomfort for the child. If your child’s case is mild, the rash usually clears up within 3 to 4 days with daily care. In an extreme case, open sores and hives may develop, causing extreme pain and discomfort.
What can cause a diaper rash?
You’ve probably heard many anecdotes regarding the myriad causes of diaper rash. The following list outlines the most common causes of diaper rash in children.
- Excessive moisture trapped near the skin.
- Chafing or rubbing from the diaper.
- Bacterial infection.
- An allergic reaction to diaper material.
- Dietary changes may affect the chemical composition of your baby’s stool, which may irritate their sensitive skin.
- Any illness that includes diarrhea generally increases the frequency of diaper changes. This may cause increased rubbing and chaffing that irritates baby’s skin.
- Many medications, including antibiotics, may be passed to children through breast milk. These medications may irritate baby’s sensitive skin when they are eliminated in your child’s diaper.
- When the mess in a diaper stays on the skin for long periods of time like at night, the skins starts to break down and that can cause sores, especially if the mess is a stool.
It is common for babies to develop diaper as often as once every two months and it can occur more often as your child grows.
What do I do if my child gets a diaper rash?
Because diaper rash in children is common, it’s important to know what to do when your child gets one.
- When changing diapers, try wiping the diaper area with a soft washcloth. You can use disposable baby wipes, but make sure that the wipes don’t contain alcohol or fragrance as these factors might irritate the skin more when it’s so sensitive already. If you need help removing stool, it’s ok to use soap and water. If the rash is severe and you need to clean the area, use a gentle squirt bottle. Do not rub the area, as it may cause more harm than good and damage the skin and increase irritation.
- After the area is clean, apply a thick layer or protective ointment or cream. Make sure the ointment or cream contains either zinc oxide or petroleum jelly. This protective layer will keep the rash covered and help prevent the rash from getting worse or bigger. At the next diaper change, the cream or ointment doesn’t have to be removed but you can continue to add more to areas where it may have rubbed off. Do not use a cream with steroids unless you have first contacted the Pediatric Center and your pediatrician recommends them. Unless they are really needed, they could end up doing more harm to your baby than good.
- When you put a new diaper on your baby, make sure it’s tight enough to stay in place but loose enough that any waste won’t rub against the skin.
To help prevent future diaper rash in children, keep the area clean and as dry as possible by changing diapers often.
When should you call the Pediatric Center?
Diaper rash in children is a common occurrence and should clear up within a few days. You may need to call the Pediatric Center if you have these symptoms.
- The rash hasn’t gone away after three days of treatment and is getting worse.
- The rash includes blisters or sores filled with pus.
- If you baby is on an antibiotic and has a bright red rash with red spots on the edges. This is a symptom of a yeast infection, which is a side effect of the antibiotic and won’t go away without medication.
- Your baby has a fever as well as the rash.
- If the rash is very painful for your child than usual, your baby may have a skin condition called cellulitis.
Which type of diaper should I use to help prevent future diaper rash in children?
There are two types of diapers, cloth or disposable. Cloth diapers can be washed and used again and again. If you use choose cloth diapers, you should pre soak the diapers that are very heavily soiled and keep them separate from other clothes. Use hot water and double-rinse each time you wash a load of diapers. Do not use any fabric softeners, whether it’s in the washing detergent or an add-in for the dryer, because they can cause your child to break out in rashes, especially if they have sensitive skin. If washing diapers isn’t for you, there are diaper services that will clean them for you. An alternative to cloth diapers are the disposable variety. Research suggests that diaper rash in children is less common when a disposable diaper is used. You may have to try several different brands until you find the one that is the perfect fit for you and your baby. No matter what type of diaper you use, the important thing is that you change your baby’s diaper often and keep you’re their skin clean and dry to prevent a future diaper rash.