Diaper rash – or diaper dermatitis, as it’s known in medical circles – is irritation that develops on the skin in the area underneath the diaper. It typically occurs when the skin is exposed to urine and feces.
Other factors that can lead to diaper dermatitis include irritants such as traces of soap or perfume in diapers, too tight diapers or antibiotic use by baby or breastfeeding mother.Irritation makes the skin more vulnerable and can allow bacterial or fungal infections to develop.
Diaper rash is common and is most often seen in babies between the ages of 9-12 months of age.
Symptoms of diaper dermatitis vary depending on the severity and cause, but can include: mild to intense redness, scaly skin patches and blisters, pimples or sores. The rash is sometimes itchy causing baby to scratch when the diaper is removed.
To prevent diaper rash, dermatologists recommend changing wet or soiled diapers quickly to keep skin under the diaper as dry as possible. Other steps that may help in managing the condition include the following:
- During diaper changes, clean the diaper area gently with a soft damp cloth or fragrance-free, alcohol-free wipes
- When diaper rash is severe or painful, use a squirt bottle to cleanse the diaper area and carefully pat dry with a soft cloth
- Occasionally place baby on a towel without a diaper to allow vulnerable skin to air dry
- Avoid talcum powder and cornstarch, which can be inhaled by baby
- Protect skin with a diaper cream containing zinc oxide
When diaper rash is severe or painful, blisters or pus are present, the rash worsens or spreads, the rash persists longer than 2-3 days, or fever develops, see your dermatologist.