dad holds his newborn baby

Your baby is fussy and upset. When you change their diaper, you see why. The skin looks red, irritated, and tender. Your baby has diaper rash.

What Is Diaper Rash?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, diaper rash is the most common skin disorder of infancy. As many as 25% of babies and toddlers get diaper rash. It’s most likely to happen between 9 and 12 months of age.

What causes diaper rash?

Babies have delicate skin, and it gets irritated by being in close contact with urine and stool. Diaper rash usually occurs when:

  • Babies wear wet or dirty diapers too long.
  • Your baby has frequent stools that irritate the skin.
  • Your baby’s diapers don’t fit well and rub against the skin.
  • Your baby is allergic to a product like laundry detergent, fabric softener, or lotions.
  • Your baby has a yeast infection. Diapers do a great job absorbing fluids but can create a moist, warm environment for bacteria and fungi to grow. Yeast infections sometimes happen after a baby has taken antibiotics. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that normally keep yeast from growing.

Is diaper rash painful?

In a word, yes. The rash can be a few spots, or it can cover most of the diaper area. Your baby’s diaper rash also can become infected.

Signs of Infected Diaper Rash

It’s easy to see signs of infected diaper rash. They include:

  • Bright red, inflamed skin.
  • Pimples or sores.
  • Red patches or spots beyond the diaper area.
  • Blisters that are clear and filled with fluid.
  • Pus draining from the rash.
  • Fussiness and crying.

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Preventing Diaper Rash

You may not be able to prevent diaper rash (some babies have more sensitive skin and are prone to it). If you take these steps, you can stop many cases of diaper rash before they start.

  • Change your baby’s wet or dirty diaper frequently, cleaning the diaper area well.
  • Some babies are sensitive to baby wipes. If possible, use warm water and a washcloth to cleanse the diaper area.
  • Let your baby’s skin dry completely before putting on a new diaper.
  • Use diapers that are free of fragrances or dyes.
  • Don’t use plastic pants over a diaper (they trap more heat and moisture than a diaper alone).
  • Use gentle detergent to wash cloth diapers and run them through an extra rinse cycle.
  • Never use baby powder to prevent diaper rash. Babies can easily inhale powder into their lungs.

How to Treat Diaper Rash

When your baby is in discomfort, you want to know what cures diaper rash fast. There’s no instant fix, but there are steps you can take to ease your child’s pain and promote healing.

  • Change dirty or wet diapers as soon as possible.
  • At diaper changes, use a squirt bottle with warm water to thoroughly clean the diaper area.
  • Apply a thick layer of diaper cream or barrier ointment after each diaper change. Look for products with zinc oxide or petroleum.
  • Bathe your baby every day while they have a rash.
  • Let your baby go without a diaper as often as possible to let air dry the skin. (You can use a waterproof pad in the crib or place your baby on a towel or an open cloth diaper to nap.)

When Should I Worry About Infected Diaper Rash?

Most cases of diaper rash clear up within a few days of diaper rash treatment at home. But sometimes, infected diaper rash needs medical attention. You should call your pediatric provider if:

  • The rash lasts longer than three days.
  • Your baby has a fever along with the diaper rash.
  • Your baby is under six weeks old.
  • The rash spreads beyond the diapered area.
  • You notice pimples or blisters forming with the rash.
  • The rash bleeds or oozes fluid.
  • The rash gets worse despite treatment.

Your pediatric provider may prescribe topical medicine to help heal your baby’s rash. The good news is that most babies get over infected diaper rash quickly with proper treatment.

Call your pediatric provider’s office with questions about your baby’s diaper rash.

Sources

American Academy of Dermatology, How to Treat Diaper Rash, Link

American Academy of Family Physicians, Diaper Rash, Link

Pediatrics in Review, Diaper Dermatitis, Link

American Academy of Pediatrics, Diaper Rash, Link

American Academy of Pediatrics, Common Diaper Rashes and Treatments, Link

Kidshealth.org, Diaper Rash, Link

About Pediatrics

From nutrition to illnesses, from athletics to school, children will face many challenges growing up. Parents often will make important health care decisions for them. We hope to help guide both of you in that journey. UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is a national leader in pediatric care, ranking consistently on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll. We provide expert treatment for pediatric diseases, along well-child visits, urgent care, and more. With locations across Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, you can find world-class care close to home. We also work closely with UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, a national leader in care for newborns and their mothers. Our goal is to provide the best care for your children, from birth to adulthood and beyond. Visit our website to find a doctor near you.