What is a diaper rash and is it serious?

Written by Joanna E. Betancourt MD FAAP

A diaper rash is any rash that develops inside the diaper area.

In mild cases, the skin might be red. In more severe cases, there may be painful open sores.

It is usually seen around the groin and inside the folds of the upper thighs and buttocks. Miles cases clear up within 3 to 4 days with treatment.

What causes diaper rash?

Over the years diaper rash has been blamed on many causes, such as teething, diet, and ammonia in the urine. However, we now believe it is caused by any of the following:

  • Too much moisture
  • Chafing or rubbing
  • When urine, stools, or both touch the skin for long period of time
  • Yeast infections
  • Bacterial infection
  • Allergic reaction to diaper material

When skin stays wet for too long, it starts to break down.

When wet skin is rubbed, it also damages more easily. Moisture from the soiled diaper can harm you baby’s skin and make it more prone to chafing. When this happens, a diaper rash may develop.

More than half of babies between 4 and 15 months of age develop diaper rash at least once in a 2-month period.

Diaper rash occurs more often when:

  • Babies get older-mostly between 8 to 10 months of age.
  • Babies are not kept clean and dry.
  • Babies have frequent stools, especially when the stool stay in their diaper overnight.
  • Babies have diarrhea
  • Babies begin to eat solid foods
  • Babies are taking antibiotics or in nursing babies whose mothers are taking antibiotics.

When to call the pediatrician?

Sometimes a diaper rashes need medical attention. Talk with your pediatrician if:

  • The rash does not look like it’s going away or gets worse 2 to 3 days after treatment.
  • The rash includes blisters or pus-filled sores.
  • Your baby is taking antibiotic and has a bright red rash with red spots at its edges. This might be a yeast infection.
  • Your baby has a fever along with a rash.
  • The rash is very painful. Your baby might have a skin condition called cellulitis.
  • What can I do if my baby gets diaper rash?

If your baby has a diaper rash (and to prevent future diaper rashes)

  1. It’s important to keep the area as clean and dry as possible. Change wet or soiled diaper right away. This helps cut down how much moisture is on the skin.
  2. Gently clean the diaper with water and a soft washcloth. Disposable diaper wipes may also be used. Avoid wipes that contain alcohol and fragrance.
  3. Use soap and water only if the stool does not come off easily. If the rash is severe, use a squirt bottle of water so you can clean and rinse without rubbing.
  4. Pat dry; do not rub. Allow the area to air-dry fully.
  5. Apply a thick layer of protective ointment or cream (such as on that contains zinc a oxide or petroleum jelly). These ointments are usually are usually thick and pasty and do not have to be completely removed at the next diaper change.
  6. Remember, heavy scrubbing or burring will only damage the skin more.
  7. Do not put the diaper on too tight, especially overnight. Keep the diaper loose so that the wet and soiled part does not rub against the skin as much.
  8. Use cream with steroids only if your pediatrician recommends them. They are rarely needed and may be harmful.
  9. Check with your pediatrician if the rash a) has blisters or pus-filled sores; does not go away within 2 to 3 days; Gets worse.

Many parents ask me if a cloth diaper is better than disposable diapers. Research suggests that diaper rashes are less common with the use of disposable diapers.

However, what is more important than the type of diaper is how often it is changed. Whether you use cloth diapers, disposables, or both, always change diapers as needed to keep your baby clean, dry, and healthy.

Hopefully, this little bit of background on diaper rashes give you some good insight about this condition that many babies have.

Dr. Betancourt is a board certified pediatricians and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She has 3 kids and gets a little grumpy when she doesn’t get a chance to workout at the gym at least 3-times a week. 

About these ads

One thought on “What is a diaper rash and is it serious?

  1. Pingback: THINGS YOU OUTTA KNOW AND PROBABLY DO ! « prettycoolidea

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s