Let’s be honest, there is nothing cuter than when your baby is walking across the room with a full diaper hanging down. It sure brings us back to the Coppertone baby days! Unfortunately, full diapers can come with diaper rash. Luckily, there is simple ways to help treat diaper rash from home.
Why is diaper rash so common in infants?
The warm and moist environment inside a diaper can create a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, which can irritate a baby's sensitive skin. Additionally, prolonged contact with urine and feces can also cause irritation. Sometimes, but less commonly, harsh soaps and detergents or medical conditions such as eczema can result in diaper rash.
The 5 types of diaper rash
- Irritant dermatitis: This is the most common type of diaper rash and is caused by prolonged contact with urine and feces. It appears as red, irritated skin and can be accompanied by itching. It generally spares the creases, which is one of the ways we can differentiate this rash from infectious causes (among other findings).
- Yeast infection: Caused by an overgrowth of the Candida yeast and appears as red, raised, and sometimes scaly patches. It is more common in babies who are taking antibiotics or have a weakened immune system. (not sure I would mention the weakened immune system since yeast rashes are quite common in babies due to warmth and moisture combined and this might freak out parents?)
- Seborrheic dermatitis: Appears as greasy, scaly, and yellowish patches on the skin and is more common in babies who have a family history of eczema or psoriasis. This is a chronic condition that may require ongoing management with your pediatrician.
- Allergic dermatitis: This type of diaper rash is caused by an allergic reaction to a product that is in contact with the skin, such as a laundry detergent or baby wipe.
- Impetigo: This is a bacterial infection that appears as yellow or honey-colored crusts on the skin. For this rash, it's important to consult with a pediatrician for an examination and appropriate treatment, which may include a prescription for an antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics.
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine
How to treat baby diaper rash from home
- Keep the area clean and dry: Change your baby's diaper frequently, at least every 2-3 hours. If possible, it is best to avoid wipes when the rash is bad. Instead, clean the affected area gently with warm water and mild soap. Let the area air dry or pat it dry gently with a clean towel.
- Use a barrier cream: Apply a thick layer of a zinc oxide-based cream (such as Purple maximum strength Desitin or Triple paste), then cover the zinc paste with a thick layer of vaseline to lock in the zinc. This will create a barrier between your baby's skin and urine and feces.
- Let your baby go diaper-free: Allow your baby to have some time without a diaper on to let the affected area breathe and heal.
- Use hypoallergenic products: Use products such as fragrance-free detergents, soaps, and lotions.
- Give your baby a warm bath: Adding a cup of baking soda or oatmeal to the bath can help soothe irritated skin.
- For yeast infections, use an antifungal cream: Over the counter antifungal creams such as clotrimazole or miconazole can be applied to the affected area after cleaning. Follow the instructions on the packaging and do not use it for more than 7 days. If you are not seeing improvement with the over the counter antifungals, the doctors at Summer Health can give you a prescription antifungal that generally works better.
Things to avoid when treating your infant or newborn
- Avoid using powder or talc on the affected area: These products can make the rash worse.
- Avoid tight-fitting diapers: Opt for looser fitting diapers, like cloth diapers, and avoid plastic pants as they can trap moisture and make the rash worse.
- Avoid using wipes with fragrances, alcohol, or preservatives on the affected area: Use plain water or mild, fragrance-free wipes instead.
It is important to remember that diaper rash is a common problem that most babies will experience– and luckily there is so much you can do to manage it with things you already have at home. As a parent, you always want your baby to be comfortable. That’s why Summer Health is here to connect you to pediatricians in 15 minutes to evaluate your baby’s diaper rash and determine the best treatment options for them.
Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Alisa Roysman
Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine
January 14, 2023