Diaper rash: causes, treatment, and prevention

Diaper rash causes, treatment, and prevention for babies and toddlers

Diaper rash is a common condition affecting babies and toddlers. Recently Sunaina Suhag, MD, FAAP, Pediatrics at ARC East 7th answered questions about diaper rash in an article on Forbes.com.

What is diaper rash?

Diaper rash is characterized by red and tender skin and can be caused by factors ranging from prolonged exposure to a soiled diaper to antibiotic use.

What are the symptoms of a diaper rash?

A pediatrician can spot a diaper rash right away, says Dr. Suhag. Typical symptoms include the following in any area covered by a diaper, such as the inner thighs, genitals, and buttocks:

  • Skin redness
  • Raised bumps
  • Sore and tender skin
  • Raw and bleeding skin (for severe rashes)
  • Pimples, blisters, or other sores (for severe rashes)

In addition to the appearance of the skin, a diaper rash may lead to bouts of crying and sleep disruptions. Symptoms will vary based on the type of diaper rash your baby has.

What causes diaper rash?

"The most common cause of diaper rash is irritation that compromises the integrity and barrier function of the skin," says Dr. Suhag. "This can be due to increased moisture or a higher pH environment from a soiled diaper."

What are some diaper rash treatments?

"We want to allow diapered skin to maintain its physiological pH and limit exposure to irritants that promote skin breakdowns as much as possible," says Dr. Suhag.

To ease the symptoms of diaper rash and promote healing, she suggests following the "ABCD" plan:

  • Allow for airtime.
  • Apply a barrier
  • Gently cleanse the affected area during diaper changes.
  • Change your baby's diaper more often, maybe as frequently as every two hours.
  • Educate yourself on simple hygiene practices, like washing your hands before and after each diaper change, changing diapers immediately once soiled or wet, wiping the area from front to back and patting the skin dry to avoid further irritation.

When to see a doctor

If you find the condition worsens or doesn't improve within several days, Dr. Suhag recommends contacting your child's pediatrician. She says you'll want to look out for signs of infection, including blisters, swelling or fever. Other signs that it might be time for a trip to the pediatrician include:

  • Symptoms of a yeast infection, like deep red skin with bumps around the edges
  • A rash that worsens or doesn't respond to the above at-home remedies within a few days
  • The skin is bright red and severely peeling
  • Your infant is less than one month old and has clusters of blisters or pimples
  • Your child is behaving abnormally and seems sick
  • Additionally, if your child is so uncomfortable, they cannot be comforted, Dr. Suhag says it's time to check in with your healthcare provider.

Make an appointment today

If you would like to make an appointment with Dr. Suhag, do so by calling ARC East 7th at 737-910-6700 or make an appointment online.

Tags: Child Care, Newborn Care, Diaper Rash