Diaper rash refers to an inflamed skin on the diaper area. It is very common and is estimated to be developed at least once by the majority of babies by the age of 15 months. However, that does not mean that your baby has to develop this uncomfortable and often painful condition too. But if you want to prevent your baby from developing a rash in the diaper area, you first need to know what causes it.
The rash in the diaper area is most often a result of irritation from exposure to feces and urine. Other common causes include:
– irritation from other factors such as a new brand of diapers, soap, laundry detergents and some skin care products
– friction from too tight fitting diapers
– yeast infection which is most common after antibiotic treatment
– and introduction of new foods or dietary changes in breast-feeding mothers
The first step in diaper rash prevention is to minimize exposure to feces and urine. Change dirty diapers as soon as possible and wash your baby’s genital area with clean water with each diaper change. You can also use baby wipes but avoid perfumed ones and those that contain alcohol. Dry your baby’s diaper area with a clean towel before putting on a new diaper. However, pat dry and do not rub because rubbing can irritate the skin. Make sure that you do not over-tighten the diaper because too tight fitting diapers can cause friction and prevent airflow to your baby’s diaper area. It is also recommendable to leave your baby’s genital area exposed to air as often as possible. Put your baby on a clean towel and leave him or her diaper-free for a brief period of time whenever you can.
The second step is to choose the type and brand of diapers very carefully. It remains unknown whether it is better to use cloth diapers or disposable ones, however, if you decide for the latter option choose those that absorb moisture well because they will help keep your baby’s genital area dry. If you use cloth diapers, wash them at high temperatures and always double rinse to prevent detergent residues. It is also recommendable to avoid using fabric softeners because they may irritate your baby’s delicate skin.
The third step is to avoid potential irritants. Use a mild soap and choose baby skin care products very carefully because perfumes and some other ingredients may increase the risk of your baby developing a rash in the diaper area. Choose products that contain as little chemicals as possible. It may be also helpful to use zinc oxide ointment or petroleum jelly to create a barrier between your baby’s skin and the diaper.
Antibiotics are a major risk factor for diaper rash because they do not just kill the harmful bacteria but the good ones too. This allows a yeast called Candida albicans to multiply and cause an infection. If your baby was prescribed antibiotics, make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions very carefully and use the above mentioned preventive measures. If you are worried that they may not be enough, ask your doctor for additional preventive measures while your baby is taking antibiotics.