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What to do with Diaper Rash (Children's Skin Care)
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What to do with Diaper Rash

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Diaper rash is common in babies and toddlers, and every parent usually has some experience with their babies forming diaper rashes. This Q&A will help you with facts and tips to care for your baby.

What is diaper rash?

Diaper rashes occur when the baby’s bottom becomes irritated. Diapers are a place where a variety of potential irritants to the skin exist. In addition to urine, stool, and the bacteria in them, many diapers have detergents and fragrances added, which can be irritating to a baby's sensitive skin. Soaps, pre-moistened baby wipes, and plastics contained in disposable diapers can all be irritating to the baby’s skin.

What causes diaper rash?

Diapers are where many irritants gather. A variety of things can cause diaper rashes, and it can happen despite a parent’s best efforts to keep their baby clean and protected. Here are some common forms of rashes and how to treat them:

  • Chafing dermatitis

Chafing dermatitis or diaper chafing is the most common form of diaper rashes. Irritation from the diaper or from the baby’s bottom being wet for too long is the cause for the rashes. The genital area and the folds between the buttocks and the thighs will become red and puffy. A mild ointment will often suffice to treat this.

  • Rubbing of Skin

The baby will have reddened skin between the folds of the thighs and abdomen, and sometimes in the armpits. This occurs from the skin folds rubbing against each other. The constant friction can cause a rash for babies who have sensitive skin. This can usually be treated by over the counter ointments or powders.

  • Stool Irritation

A common rash, stool irritation often occurs immediately after solid foods have been introduced to the baby’s diet. The skin around the anus will become red in color, sometimes bright red, and other times a darker shade of red. Stool irritations can be treated by over the counter creams.

  • Diaper Irritation

The baby’s skin will become red and irritated on the creases of the legs or the upper abdomen. This is caused by the edges of the diaper rubbing against the skin, and irritating the baby’s sensitive skin, and is often aggravated by moisture and heat. These can be treated with over the counter ointments. A medicated powder will often be effective.

  • Eczema or Atopic Dermatitis

Usually affecting babies 6 to 12 months of age, the baby will show red scaly patches on the legs and groin, and can also be found in other parts of the body. These can be caused by allergens, irritants or other environmental or hereditary factors. Visit your dermatologist if you suspect that your baby has eczema. A prescription cream or ointment will usually treat the rashes effectively. For information on baby eczema, visit

  • Yeast Infection

If your baby shows small red spots, which multiply over time and form together in bright red rashes with edges, your baby likely has a yeast infection. The rash is often tender and painful, appearing in the baby’s genitals, legs, and creases between the stomach and thigh. Yeast infections often occur during the use or after the use of antibiotics. Yeast infections need to be treated with a medicated cream for this purpose. For more information on yeast infections, visit

  • Strep Bacteria

If your baby shows yellow or brown dry patches, pus filled pimples or blisters around the buttocks, lower abdomen, anus, and the thighs, this is likely a bacterial infection caused by Streptococci and Staphylococci bacteria. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body, and to others that come into contact with the skin. A doctor should be seen immediately. Topical antibiotics or for more serious infections, an oral antibiotic will be prescribed. For more information, visit

How do I prevent my baby from forming a diaper rash?

Change your baby’s diaper often, and wash the skin with cotton balls dipped in warm water or a wash cloth. Allow your baby’s skin to see more open air. Keeping your baby constantly diapered can be too irritating for a baby’s sensitive skin to handle. Be mindful of potential irritants. If a rash is recurring, it may be due to an irritant such as the diaper itself, or the soap that is used to clean your baby.  Try reducing the amount of times that you use soap to clean your baby, or try a different diaper. Products such as Desitin®, A&D®, Eucerin®, zinc oxide or Nivea® can be applied to your baby’s bottom, which will help protect their skin. Finally, remember that your baby’s skin is very sensitive. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, diaper rashes will form if your baby has extremely sensitive skin. If the rash doesn’t go away after a day or two, take your baby to a doctor.


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