Published December 04, 2007 by
Diaper rash is the most common infant skin problem. The rash, usually confined to the diaper area, is caused moisture, urine, stool, or irritating chemicals, usually from the diaper. If not treated promptly and appropriately, bacteria or yeast may invade the area and start an infection.
Simple diaper rashes are red, slightly rough, and scaly. They usually only involve the area covered by the diaper. The skin may be irritated by chemicals in those disposable diapers that came in your lovely diaper cake or in the detergent used to launder cloth diapers. Plastic or rubber pants worn over the cloth diapers sometimes affect the skin [and always hold the moisture in against the skin].
If your baby stays in wet diapers too long, microorganisms and moisture can irritate his sensitive skin, leaving a large, bright red rash. Often you will detect an ammonia odor when changing your baby’s diapers.
Some babies are prone to getting yeast diaper rashes. The organism that causes the rash is the same one that causes vaginal yeast infections. The rash is usually found in the skin folds of a baby’s thighs.
Any of the above rashes may become infected with bacteria. The rash, instead of getting better, begins to get worse. It will become darker red, with some discharge. Oral antibiotics may be necessary to clear up such an infection.
Other causes of diaper rash include food and drug allergies, skin infections and contagious diseases [chicken pox or measles].
Most diaper rashes are simple to treat at home. Make sure your baby doesn’t stay in wet or soiled diapers for very long. Change his diapers frequently. If possible, let him go without diapers-letting his sore bottom be exposed to the air is best. There are many different ointments that are protective. For some babies, they help the rash clear up quickly, but for others they seem to make things worse. Avoid airtight rubber pants. They hold the urine and feces against the sore skin. If you suspect an allergic rash, stop giving your child whatever you think is the problem food.
Some rashes just don’t respond to home care. If the rash is getting much worse, if your baby is extremely uncomfortable, or if you can’t figure out what’s going on, give your doctor a call.