How do I Take Care of my Child's Diaper Rash?

O. Wallace
O. Wallace
Many ointments are available to treat diaper rash.
Many ointments are available to treat diaper rash.

In every baby’s life, diaper rash, also known as diaper dermatitis, is virtually guaranteed. Studies have shown that there is a one in four likelihood that a baby will develop a fairly serious rash at some point. Due to the highly sensitive nature of a baby’s bottom, along with aggravating urine and stools and the chafing of a diaper, rashes are unavoidable. Not only is this condition common, but it's normal and is usually not a cause for concern.

Gently cleansing a baby's bottom with a warm washcloth helps treat diaper rash.
Gently cleansing a baby's bottom with a warm washcloth helps treat diaper rash.

While many people debate that children who wear cloth diapers have fewer cases of diaper rash, due to the natural fibers and better circulation of air, proponents of disposable diapers disagree. Modern science has developed materials used in disposables that draw moisture into the diaper and away from the child’s skin. Others argue that babies who are breastfed suffer fewer rashes. Regardless of who is right, the statistics are staggering: over a three year period in the U.S., one study counted 8.2 million diagnoses of diaper dermatitis.

Some parents argue that disposable diapers help prevent diaper rash.
Some parents argue that disposable diapers help prevent diaper rash.

For parents, prevention of diaper rash is important. Frequent diaper changing, especially for newborns who eat more frequently, is key. For newborns, it is safe to change the diaper every two hours. Poop diapers should be changed immediately — the contact of the stool on the bottom is particularly aggravating to a baby’s skin. Many parents try out several different brands of diapers before finding one that fits well and doesn’t cause a rash. When changing the baby’s diaper, clean the bottom well using unscented wipes or a washcloth soaked in warm water.

One way to help treat a diaper rash is to change the baby's diapers more frequently.
One way to help treat a diaper rash is to change the baby's diapers more frequently.

If your baby exhibits a simple contact diaper rash, with a mildly red and irritated bottom, there are two main types of diaper cream that can be purchased in any health care store. Diaper creams soothe an irritated bottom, while providing a protective barrier between aggravating moisture and the baby’s skin. A white petroleum based cream, such as A&D Ointment, is good for every day diapering. This type of cream is not particularly thick or messy. White zinc oxide based creams are better for more moderate rashes, because they are thicker and more moisture resistant.

In addition to diaper cream, it also helps to rinse the baby’s bottom in the bath or sink using a sprayer, forgoing painful wiping. Blot the baby’s bottom dry and allow it to air out. Because drying out a diaper rash is imperative, many parents put their baby on a waterproof pad for a while before re-diapering.

For more serious cases, you may want to try Acid Mantle, a popular brand of diaper cream. Butt Paste and Triple Paste combine several ingredients for a stronger cream. If you can’t find these creams in your drugstore, ask your pharmacist to mix one up or order one for you.

If you suspect that your child has a more than a simple contact diaper rash, there are several different types your doctor may diagnose:

  • Yeast Infection: A yeast rash occurs when a diaper rash has already caused irritation and the yeast that normally lives in the intestines infects the area. With this type of rash, doctors usually prescribe an anti-fungal cream containing Clotrimazole.

  • Intertrigo: This occurs in the folds of a baby’s skin, causing a burned-red appearing rash. It is usually treated with a white petroleum ointment.

  • Impetigo: Blisters and raised areas of rash that weep a honey-colored fluid are symptoms of this bacterial infection. In addition to the traditional treatment of contact diaper rash, an antibiotic ointment is also prescribed.

  • Allergy Ring: Certain foods can cause the stool and urine to become more acidic, causing a red ring around the baby’s anus. Treatment involves limiting the offending foods and regular treatment of the rash.

  • Seborrhea: This is caused by an inflammatory condition and is usually treated with an over the counter hydrocortisone 1% cream to reduce the inflammation. A doctor may prescribe a stronger cream if necessary.

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Discussion Comments

anon146180

I use cloth diapers and my six month old child has never had a diaper rash. Just rinse out the gross diapers and have a diaper service pick up the dirty ones and drop off the clean ones every week. It's about the same cost as buying disposables.

cupcake15

Sunny27- I agree with you. I used A&D ointment for my children as well and it worked great. I have never used the baby powder with cornstarch though. I used to hate it when my babies had diaper rash.

I felt so bad for them, but one thing that I would never do is use cloth diapers I preferred the disposable diapers better. I don’t know how parents with children use cloth diapers. I mean, who has that kind of time? I sure didn’t and imagine that most parents don’t either.

Sunny27

Great article- I agree that A&D ointment is excellent for diaper rash. My daughter’s pediatrician told me about it and I use it ever since.

It really relieves the redness and slight inflammation. I also use baby powder with cornstarch which also relieves the redness and chaffing on the bottom. It smells good too. I always keep some baby powder at home.

It really helps with chaffing which happens to me when I walk in shorts. Applying a little on the inside of the legs really eliminates that uncomfortable pain and redness, almost immediately.

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    • Many ointments are available to treat diaper rash.
      By: Tinga
      Many ointments are available to treat diaper rash.
    • Gently cleansing a baby's bottom with a warm washcloth helps treat diaper rash.
      By: Schlierner
      Gently cleansing a baby's bottom with a warm washcloth helps treat diaper rash.
    • Some parents argue that disposable diapers help prevent diaper rash.
      By: PhotographyByMK
      Some parents argue that disposable diapers help prevent diaper rash.
    • One way to help treat a diaper rash is to change the baby's diapers more frequently.
      By: Tomasz Trojanowski
      One way to help treat a diaper rash is to change the baby's diapers more frequently.