Diaper rash, also known as diaper dermatitis, contact dermatitis or nappy rash is a generalized term for any skin irritation in the diaper area, and is not usually a serious condition. It is very common and occurs in about 50% of all babies as early as 6 weeks of age and as late as 15 months, but more often at around 8-10 months old. Because it is an inflammation, it may look like a red, sore patch on your baby’s diaper area or groin, if mild. More severe cases may have small bumps on the lower part of the tummy, genitals and skin folds around the upper leg, buttocks or thighs. It is usually painful and may cause a secondary bacterial or yeast infection if not treated.
There are many causes of diaper rash, including irritation from soiled diapers. Urine and feces are acidic and can break down baby’s sensitive skin. Friction or rubbing of the diaper on baby’s diaper area, harsh detergents or soaps, and moisture from wet diapers or from sweat also contribute to the worsening of a diaper rash.
To prevent diaper rash: 1. Change your baby’s diapers as it becomes soiled. Avoid following a “changing schedule” or waiting until the diaper is fully soaked before changing, as this will expose baby’s buttocks to the moisture of the urine or stool longer than necessary. Bacteria develops quickly in stool and urine, which can turn a simple irritation to a full-blown infection.
2. Wash your baby’s bottom with warm water and mild soap. Avoid rubbing.
3. Pat the skin dry with a soft clean cloth. Avoid baby wipes or wet wipes as these may have harmful chemicals.
4. Put the diaper on loosely. A tight diaper will lock moisture in and may worsen or cause diaper rash.
If you are not about to travel, go to the mall or eat out, it is a good idea to expose your baby’s buttocks to air dry for a few minutes. Avoid plastic underwear. Plastic panties that are used to cover the diaper must be avoided too, as it may cause chaffing or rubbing of the plastic on baby’s sensitive skin.