Diaper rash is an extremely uncomfortable, but usually preventable, condition which many infants experience. It is a form of dermatitis on the buttocks, genitals, or thigh folds. One of the main causes of this type of dermatitis is prolonged contact with moisture. Moisture causes the natural skin oils to be stripped from the outer layer of skin which leads to an increased susceptibility to infection by bacteria or sometimes a yeast infection.
Some babies are more prone to diaper rash than others. A flat red rash is probably cause by friction of the diaper on the baby’s delicate skin. This type of rash is usually closer to the edges of the waist or leg bands of the diaper. This type of rash does not typically cause much discomfort. This can also be caused by laundry detergents. These rashes should be easy to treat and avoid with proper attention.
Seborrheic dermatitis is sort of like cradle cap in the diaper area. It is similarly scaly and greasy and may be more pronounced in the folds of the skin. Yeast is the most common infectious cause of diaper rash. The affected areas are bumpy and very red with distinct borders and lesions in more severe cases. This type of dermatitis can occur after an illness is treated with antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria that normally keeps the body’s naturally occurring yeast in check. Repeated or stubborn diaper rash caused by yeast infections may require medical attention since the condition will not go away with standard treatments.
A baby with a skin rash that is blistered or bleeding, should be seen by a doctor. Antibiotics can be prescribed for painful itching if it is caused by bacteria. This can be administered topically or systemically, depending on the size of the area affected and the severity of the infection.
Anti-fungal creams such as Lotrimin, can be used to treat yeast-caused rashes. When a stronger approach is required, mild steroid creams like hydrocortisone 0.5-1% can be used, such as in the case of seborrheic dermatitis. Prescriptions are commonly used for the short-term treatment of stubborn cases.
There are alternative treatments for diaper rash. To begin with, proper hygiene is the first line of defense in preventing simple cases of diaper rash. Wet or dirty diapers must be changed ASAP. A good idea is to let babies have some time without their diaper each day, just to air things out. Babies that are prone to more serious diaper rash outbreaks actually do better with reusable cloth diapers rather than the common, plastic disposable diapers. This is probably because cotton diapers breathe better than plastic. Some experimentation with different diapers may be necessary to find out what works best for each baby.
Another thing to be cautious about, especially in cases of severe diaper rash, are baby wipes. Some wipes contain alcohol or other additives that can irritate. A quick bath with a small amount of mild soap is the best way to clean a baby with a bad rash.
Barrier ointments can be useful for the treatment of skin rashes. Those white, pasty creams that contain zinc oxide, are particularly effective. They will protect already irritated skin from the chafing and irritation caused by urine and feces, especially diarrhea. Cornstarch powder works well for rashes that are moist or oozing.
Following some of these simple guidelines will help resolve most ordinary diaper rashes pretty quickly if there is no serious underlying associated skin disease. Frequent diaper changes is the most basic rule of thumb to keep skin dry, healthy and rash free. Figuring out what works best in terms of diapers and cleansing products for each baby will also go a long way in preventing diaper rash flare ups.