Diaper dermatitis, also known as diaper rash, is a rash that develops around the buttocks area of a child or adult who wears diapers or similar garments. This rash normally grows bigger and may develop sores, blisters, or scaly patches as the dermatitis worsens due to repeated exposure to dampness or other factors, such as a diaper that is too tight. Some diaper rashes are yeast-related, caused by a common Candida fungus or yeast, which naturally grows on skin but can overgrow and cause temporary health problems. Diaper dermatitis is typically treated by keeping the affected areas dry with powder and minimal use of diapers or incontinence underwear. With proper treatment, this type of dermatitis often goes away within two to three days.
This skin irritation under diapers and diaper-like garments is common in infants who are not kept dry due to infrequent diaper changes or who have very frequent bowl movements. Acidic stool and ammonia are also possible causes of diaper dermatitis, which tend to present themselves when the child has diarrhea and when the urine is given enough time to break down in the diaper, respectively. All of these potential causes, however, ultimately lead to excessive moisture in the diaper frequently or for extended periods of time. Some causes or contributing factors to diaper rash that are not moisture related are diapers that are too tight, diapers that rub against and irritate the skin, and an allergic reaction to detergents or other chemicals used to clean cloth diapers.
Symptoms of diaper dermatitis include a bright red and scaly rash or small patches of redness under the diaper. Diaper rash is normally found in areas covered by the diaper, and a doctor should be consulted if the rash spreads outside this area or if the child develops a fever or pus-filled sores or the rash persists for more than three days with treatment. The rash may be tender and painful to the child.
Most cases of diaper dermatitis can be adequately taken care of without professional assistance. Some first steps in dealing with this issue include keeping the affected skin completely dry and free of excrement and keeping diapers off as much as possible. When dealing with babies, one way to help implement this strategy is to allow the child to sleep on an open cloth diaper, as the situation can be visually monitored for defecation. Sometimes changing the products that are applied to the skin can aid in the dispersal of diaper rash. It is also usually advisable to avoid the use of products containing alcohol and to utilize as little soap as possible when cleaning an area that is affected by diaper rash.