Diaper rash is the occurrence of a red, scaly and sometimes irritated rash on the bottom, legs, torso or crotch of babies. The rash can occur anywhere that a diaper covers a baby’s body. Though diaper rash is uncomfortable for the baby, it is rarely serious and can usually be treated with gentle at-home approaches.
The main reason diaper rash occurs is prolonged exposure to moisture on the baby’s skin. This happens when the baby is in a dirty diaper for too long. However, diaper rash can also be caused by rubbing and chafing from a diaper that's too tight. Sometimes, a baby can get irritated or have an allergic reaction to certain soaps, baby wipes or the diaper itself. An adverse reaction to antibiotics can also cause diaper rash.
Treatment of Diaper Rash
Diaper rash is usually a short-term problem that can be easily remedied. The best way to prevent the problem is to change a baby’s diaper frequently, and let the baby go without a diaper at certain times so that air can circulate on the baby's bottom. For treatment, choose a zinc oxide ointment or petroleum jelly to treat the rash in a gentle way. Also use mild soaps and pat the baby’s bottom dry after baths, rather than rubbing. Finally, make sure the area is completely dry before putting on a new diaper.
There may be times when a health care provider should be consulted about a diaper rash. The infant should see a doctor, for instance, if the rash is accompanied by pimples, ulcers, bumps or nodules or if the baby has a fever or is losing weight. A rash within six weeks after birth also should be checked by a doctor, as should a rash that doesn’t go away after a week of treatment. Also, consult a doctor if the rash spreads to other areas of the body, such as the baby's face or arms.
SOURCES: American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Family Physicians