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What you need to know

Having a newborn or baby is challenging enough – even without adding diaper rash to the mix. But it's a common occurrence for the youngest among us, so it's important to recognize the signs of diaper rash, understand the causes and how to treat it, so you can keep your baby happy and healthy. Read on to learn more about this common issue in newborns and babies, and how to get rid of diaper rash.1

Tips for preventing diaper rash

The best way to help prevent diaper rash is to keep your baby's sensitive skin clean and dry. Here, a few tips that can help decrease the risk.

  • Change diapers often
  • Rinse your baby’s bottom with warm water during each diaper change
  • Gently pat skin dry or allow to air-dry
  • Use ointment as needed2

What is diaper rash and what causes it?

Diaper rash is extremely common in newborns and babies, and there are different causes and symptoms. The main signs of diaper rash are redness, irritation and tenderness on the buttocks, thighs and in the genital area, as well as extra fussiness during diaper changes, which is why using proper diaper rash treatment is important for keeping baby comfortable.1

Diaper rash is often caused by prolonged exposure to wet, dirty diapers and infrequent diaper changes,1 but it can also develop due to chafing or rubbing caused by tight diapers as well as irritation from new or existing skincare products. Switching to a new brand of diapers, wipes, detergent and other laundry products used for washing cloth diapers can also result in diaper rash symptoms. The warm, moist environment of skin covered with a diaper makes this area prone to bacterial and fungal infections as well.1

It's important to note that diaper rash can occur or recur despite a parent or caretaker’s best efforts, so just do your best and ask your doctor for help as needed..

Identifying different types of diaper rash

Many parents are unaware that there are several types of diaper rash with different root causes—and unique symptoms. They include:

Irritant contact dermatitis: Caused by wet skin coming into contact with the diaper itself, this form of diaper rash appears as redness and swelling on the baby’s buttocks and along the diaper's borders.1

Diaper candidiasis:3 This overgrowth of yeast is primarily due to the warm, moist diaper environment. Most commonly seen in the creases along the legs and around the testicles and vulva, this type of diaper rash can also result in large bumps, blisters and pimple-like lesions.1

Allergic contact dermatitis: A specific ingredient or chemical in a diaper, wipe, skincare product or detergent can cause this type of diaper rash. The most common culprits are fragrances and preservatives, however other allergens can be to blame.1

Bacterial infections: Bacterial infections like staph and strep may lead to this less common form of diaper rash, and it requires treatment with antibiotic creams or ointments. If you suspect your baby may have this type of diaper rash, it’s best to see a pediatrician or dermatologist.4

Diaper rash treatment

Once diaper rash symptoms are visible, there are several steps that you can take to soothe their skin and promote healing. Frequent diaper changes, washing baby’s diaper area with each change and allowing skin to air-dry (when possible) can help.1 A diaper rash ointment is an effective way to protect skin from further irritation due to wetness and create a barrier against moisture.2

If your baby's diaper rash doesn’t improve after a few days of at-home treatment, a visit to the pediatrician may be in order. He or she may recommend a mild hydrocortisone cream, anti-fungal cream or oral or topical antibiotic depending on the type of diaper rash they have.1 Keep an eye out for unusual or especially severe symptoms that continue to worsen, especially bleeding or oozing. It’s also important to see a doctor if there is obvious pain associated with urinating or bowel movements, and if diaper rash symptoms are accompanied by a fever.

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