Defeating Diaper Rash

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This common skin irritation can be upsetting for babies and parents.

Anyone who’s spent time taking care of an infant knows that a red bottom can be a sign of unpleasant things to come. Diaper rash affects more than half of babies between the ages of four and 15 months and is most common between eight and 10 months.

Typically, diaper rash looks like bumps or breaks in the skin accompanied by redness on areas of your baby’s skin that come into contact with the diaper. Causes include urine or stool remaining too close to the skin for prolonged periods, as well as any allergies your baby may have to the diapers themselves or the wipes you use. If it isn’t treated properly, diaper rash can put your baby at risk for other medical conditions.

Changing your baby’s diaper immediately is key to preventing diaper rash. Other methods of effectively treating diaper rash include:

  • soaking in an oatmeal bath, much like is done for chicken pox or similar skin conditions
  • changing the wipes you use on your baby to fragrance- or alcohol-free varieties
  • rinsing your baby’s bottom with warm water and, after a bowel movement, mild soap each time you change him
  • fastening your baby’s diaper loosely to allow air to circulate

Ointment that contains zinc oxide is a great way to prevent diaper rash from occurring in the first place. Just apply a layer each time you change your child’s diaper. These kinds of ointment are often thick, and that’s a good thing, as they create a barrier between your child’s skin and the diaper itself.

If your child’s case of diaper rash is severe, you may need to see your pediatrician. Signs that a trip to the doctor is necessary include if your baby has a fever to go along with his diaper rash, if the rash is excessively painful, or if your baby’s rash includes blisters or sores. Also call your pediatrician if the rash doesn’t go away within a few days.

Diapers: Disposable Versus Reusable

Everywhere you turn, it seems, there are people touting one type of diapers over another. With all the noise, it can be difficult to decide which option is best for your baby. Many factors play into it: your baby’s comfort is one, of course, as well as which option is more cost effective for you.

Disposable diapers are often seen as more convenient, while reusable cloth diapers are typically less expensive, even with the added water and electricity costs of all that washing. You can get reusable diapers from a service that collects used cloth diapers and bring you fresh, clean ones, but be forewarned—this makes the reusable option pricier.

Did You Know?

> Sometimes diaper rash occurs because an infant is allergic to dyes used in the diaper itself.

> Infants can urinate around 20 times a day.

> Whether using cloth or disposable diapers, be sure to dump loose stool in the toilet.

Schedule doctor visits for your child online at! Day or night, schedule appointments for next day and beyond with pediatricians Alan Brown, M.D., or Bird Gilmartin, M.D., here.

Drs. Brown and Gilmartin are members of the medical staff at Evanston Regional Hospital.