How do I Treat Diaper Rash?

Archana Khambekar

A diaper rash is a skin problem usually seen in babies. Leaving a damp diaper on for long intervals, sensitivity to the diaper or wipes used, and certain infections are among the causes of a diaper rash. Usually a cream with zinc oxide as the active ingredient or a petroleum based formulation can help treat diaper rash; organic creams are also available. An anti-fungal cream may be needed to relieve a diaper rash that occurs due to a yeast infection. Letting the baby stay without a diaper for short durations is also recommended to help clear the rash.

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

Diaper rash often shows up around the bottom, genital, and upper thigh region. It appears red, and may be scaly. Sometimes sores or pimples may develop. An infection can further inflame the rash.

Damp diapers can cause diaper rash to develop in babies.
Damp diapers can cause diaper rash to develop in babies.

Typically, a diaper rash is brought on by moistness and warmness in the groin area. A rash may break out as the skin reacts to urine and excreta in a diaper that has not been changed for a long time. The skin may be irritated by the disposable diaper material or plastic pants worn, the detergent used to wash cloth diapers, or the fragrance and alcohol content of the cleansing wipes.

Natural diaper creams often contain cocoa butter.
Natural diaper creams often contain cocoa butter.

Sometimes a diaper rash may be due to a yeast infection. It may develop in a baby who is being treated with antibiotics, or when the nursing mother is on antibiotics. There may be an association between a baby's dietary intake and the diaper rash. It could be a reaction to solids or juices newly added to the diet.

One of the chief ingredients in diaper rash creams is petroleum jelly.
One of the chief ingredients in diaper rash creams is petroleum jelly.

There are many creams and ointments on the market to treat diaper rash. The creams often contain zinc oxide and petroleum jelly as the chief ingredients. The concentration of the active ingredients can vary, however, so a particular diaper cream may offer better relief than another. Diaper creams may also include glycerine, lanolin, vitamin E, and mineral oil.

Creams containing zinc oxide can help reduce discomfort from diaper rash.
Creams containing zinc oxide can help reduce discomfort from diaper rash.

Some parents may prefer diaper creams without petrochemicals; creams made solely from natural ingredients such as essential oils, cocoa butter, and aloe vera are commonly available. Before buying a cream to treat diaper rash, it is advisable to check its composition. Some over-the counter creams may have ingredients such as camphor, phenol, or boric acid that could aggravate the skin.

Normally, a cream with zinc oxide or petroleum jelly is spread in a layer on the affected area to treat diaper rash. Several applications of the cream may be required. It may also take a couple of days to show improvement.

Sometimes a rash may not get better with a diaper cream. A rash with tiny inflamed bumps may be a sign of a yeast infection, which may require treatment with an anti-fungal cream. A rash could also result from a bacterial infection. If a rash doesn't clear in a week, appears in other areas, looks redder or oozes, or seems very painful to the child, or if a fever develops, the child should be treated by a doctor.

In most cases, keeping the baby diaper-free a few times in the day lets the affected area breathe and helps the rash heal. Sometimes choosing a different brand of diapers that are better suited to the baby's skin may help. Changing the diaper several times, cleaning the area with gentle soap and warm water, and drying the skin well by dabbing it are among the measures suggested to protect the skin from rashes.

Using cloth diapers can help decrease the frequency and severity of diaper rash.
Using cloth diapers can help decrease the frequency and severity of diaper rash.

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