Diaper rash is a literal pain in the behind. No parent wants to see red, rashy skin on their little one’s booty, but you should know that it’s really common – at some point, almost every baby will get diaper rash. While the cause is most often due to too much moisture in the diaper area, there are other factors to keep in mind and plenty of ways to take care of it on your own. For anyone wanting to be a diaper rash detective, you’ve come to the right place!
Here are the deets on how to treat and prevent diaper rash. (Plus we’ve got you covered with some diaper rash FAQs.)
What is Diaper Rash?
Diaper rash (also known as diaper dermatitis) is red, blotchy, and inflamed skin on your baby’s booty. While it can seem to crop up out of nowhere, it’s usually due to irritants like wet diapers that stay on a little too long, diaper chafing, or skin sensitivities.
What Causes Diaper Rash?
Diaper rash can be caused by a few factors, so it might take some trial and error to get to the bottom of it (pun intended). Be on the lookout for these common causes:
- New baby products: Your baby's thin and delicate skin could react to a new brand of baby wipes, diapers, detergent, or article of clothing.
- Wet diapers: Letting your baby hang out in a heavy diaper for too long (don’t worry, it happens to us all!) is a recipe for diaper rash disaster. The combo of urine (which can affect the pH level of your wee one’s skin) + less air circulation + more moisture = the perfect environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive.
- Sweat: If your baby is overheated (whether that’s from a hot summer day, or being bundled up on a cold winter one), things can get moist and uncomfortable in the diaper area.
- Chafing or Friction: Tight clothing or diapers are not only constricting, they can rub your baby’s skin the wrong way.
- Diarrhea: Frequent poop and loose stools can irritate baby’s skin and quickly lead to a rash.
- Diet: Once your foodie has started solids, know that certain foods can create more acidity in their poop – and it could cause redness if that poop sits in a diaper or touches their skin for too long.
- Yeast: An overgrowth of the body’s yeast can cause diaper rash. Inconveniently, yeast also thrives in warm and wet environments. And if a baby or a breastfeeding parent is taking antibiotics, there’s an increased chance of a yeast infection leading to diaper rash – be sure to check with your pediatrician if you suspect this could be the issue!
How to Spot Diaper Rash.
You change diapers like it’s a second job, so when a diaper rash appears, you’ll be the first to know. While you can’t miss it, here are some signs to look out for:
- Red bumps or patches of red skin concentrated around the diaper area or in the creases of your baby's upper thighs.
- Flaky, peeling, or scaly skin.
- Puffy, tender, and warm-to-the-touch skin.
Before you start diagnosing your baby’s problem as diaper rash, there are other skin conditions to be aware of:
- Yeast Infection: This is a bright red rash that typically begins in the folds of the abdomen and thighs and spreads from there.
- Eczema: This skin condition shows up as dry, itchy, and red patches on the face and scalp – while not as common, it can also show up in the diaper area.
- Impetigo: Symptoms include red and itchy sores that leak clear fluid. A bad case of diaper rash can sometimes lead to an impetigo infection.
How To Treat Diaper Rash.
There are tons of ways to treat diaper rash at home. Try one or a few of the following remedies to get it cleared up in no time.
- Keep your baby’s skin as dry as possible. At each diaper change, take a clean cloth and gently dab their bottom to soak up any wetness. If your kid will lie still, let them air out a bit before putting on a fresh diaper.
- Change their diaper more frequently than normal to keep the wetness away from their tender skin.
- A diaper that’s too tight can cause chafing and irritation, so make sure that booty wrapper is the right fit. In between sizes? Size up.
- Use wipes that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic so you don’t irritate the rash anymore than it already is. And when you wipe, use a light touch.
- For a severe diaper rash, create a DIY baby bidet. Fill a squirt bottle or small spray bottle with warm water and use that to clean the diaper area (don’t forget to pat their skin dry with a soft cloth).
- Let them go diaper-free for a while. Line the playpen or crib with towels or sheets and let them hang out in the buff (While you monitor them, of course!).
- Use a zinc oxide based diaper rash cream at every diaper change, but especially overnight when you won’t be changing them as often. Note: if you trap moisture below the diaper rash cream you’re defeating the purpose so you’ve got to make sure that tush is dry before adding any cream. For tips on how to apply diaper cream correctly, follow this 3-step process.
- At bath time, fill the tub with lukewarm water and use a fragrance-free shampoo and body wash followed by a fragrance-free lotion or protective balm. Why the emphasis on fragrance-free? Because scents can be especially irritating to babies with super sensitive skin and, when your baby is dealing with diaper rash, you don’t want to risk making their skin any more unhappy than it already is!
- While our line of fragrance-free bath products contain oat extracts for ultimate soothing, you can also give your baby an old-fashioned oatmeal bath. Add ½ cup of oats to a clean sock or small cloth bag (This is only to help with post-bath clean up. You can also just sprinkle the oats in the water on their own), then add it to the bathwater. Let your little love soak for 10-15 minutes. Afterwards, don’t rinse them – because the oatmeal creates a protective barrier on the skin to help seal in moisture. Pat them dry and apply a fragrance-free moisturizer.
- Wash your hands before and after each diaper change. When diaper rash is involved, your baby’s skin is more prone to infection from bacteria or yeast. Clean those hands to prevent spreading a possible infection.
- If your baby’s skin is extra sensitive to fragrance in their body care products, it stands to reason that they could also be sensitive to the fragrance in their laundry detergent! So use an unscented laundry detergent to give their skin the ultimate chance to heal.
How to Prevent Diaper Rash.
Treatment and prevention are gonna look pretty similar! Once your baby’s diaper rash is in check, or healed, use the strategies you learned above. Keep using diaper rash cream – but gauge whether it’s needed at every single change or just at bedtime. Keep patting their skin dry after you wipe. Keep your eye on their diaper size. And, if you suspect your wee one has really sensitive skin, keep using fragrance-free products and detergent.
FAQs About Diaper Rash.
I’m out of diaper rash cream. What else can I use?Dab on a thick ointment, like our ultra soothing Everywhere Balm. Like diaper rash cream, it’ll help create a moisture barrier to protect your baby’s bottom against wetness.
Is diaper rash painful for babies?Depending on the severity of your baby’s diaper rash, it can definitely range from unpleasant and itchy, to raw and painful. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to temper the discomfort at home (see all of the tips above!). If you notice your wee one is especially irritable or feverish, give your pediatrician a call.
How do I narrow down the cause of my baby’s diaper rash?It’s hard to know the exact reason for the rash. We suggest starting with the basics and, if diaper rash continues to show up or refuses to heal despite your best efforts, talk to your pediatrician. We hope you’ll review all the treatment advice we shared above but, in general, here are some diaper rash best practices: Keep your baby as dry as possible, change their diapers frequently, use copious amounts of diaper rash cream to protect their skin, consider switching to fragrance-free body care products and detergent.
If I’m concerned about diaper rash, what should I look for in a diaper rash cream?Great Question! Here are a few VIP ingredients to look for in a diaper rash cream:
- Zinc Oxide: This is a white mineral that helps protect baby's sensitive skin from contact with damp and dirty diapers. It also helps reduce and prevent redness and soothe the skin. Ours is created with non-nano zinc oxide.
- Other Skin-Protectors: Check the ingredient list for natural oils and butters that will condition, soften, and soothe. We love natural ones like shea butter, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and sunflower seed oil.
Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against over-the-counter ointments that contain an antibiotic, since some ingredients in those products can actually worsen skin irritation.
How much diaper cream should I use?When you’re treating a persistent rash, the more moisture barrier the merrier! Paint on a thick layer and don’t be afraid to use it at every diaper change if you want.
If I’m concerned about diaper rash, what should I look for in a diaper?You’ll want a highly absorbent diaper that’ll keep skin as dry as possible after baby goes #1. In addition, diapers made without artificial fragrance, chlorine, lotions, and other potentially irritating materials will be easier on their skin.
What other products should I keep on hand to help with diaper rash treatment and prevention?
We’re never caught without these products on the changing table: talc-free baby powder, fragrance-free lotion, a soothing balm, and hand sanitizer (for parents only!).
When should I call my pediatrician?Give the doc a call if your baby’s rash gets noticeably worse after a few days of treating it at home – especially if it begins to ooze, blister, or peel – or if they develop a fever. As with anything, there are NO stupid questions when it comes to your baby. So, let your pediatrician’s office know if you have any concerns at all about your baby’s diaper rash.
What are your tried and true tips for preventing and treating diaper rash? Please share your advice in the comments!