Everything you need to know about diaper rash

First up? It’s really common. So don’t beat yourself up if your baby has it!

Seeing your precious tot’s skin covered in an angry red, scaly rash is enough to make any new mama cry – but diaper rash, rest assured, is not only extremely common (most babies will get it at some point between the ages of zero and two), it’s also quite simple to treat and usually clears up within two to three days. Phew! Here’s the lowdown on diaper rash – what causes it, how to treat it, and when to seek further help.

Diaper rash causes

Most diaper rash is caused simply because your tot is wearing a diaper 24/7. Imagine if you were wearing a piece of clothing close to your skin all the time – after a while, it would begin to irritate, right? Well, that’s what happens with diaper rash. The number one cause is simply irritation and friction, where a baby is wearing a diaper too long, or if their stool is left to rub against their skin repeatedly.

Diaper rash may also be caused by infection. This occurs when already irritated skin becomes infected, for instance by the changing pH levels of your baby’s urine (which occurs naturally and is perfectly normal), their stool or less commonly, yeast infections like candida. Candida is bright red and often occurs after a baby (or a breastfeeding mom) has antibiotics. If you suspect your tot has a yeast infection, see your doctor.

Finally, diaper rash can be the result of an allergy. Some babies have sensitive skin that’s more prone to rashes – for these babies, certain laundry detergents, soaps and even diapers themselves can cause a rash. If your baby is eating solids, sometimes new foods can cause a rash, too. If your tot’s diaper rash is persistent, it’s best to see your doctor to rule out any allergies.

How to prevent it

As most diaper rash is caused by friction, be sure to change your tot’s diaper frequently – as soon as they are soiled or wet, or every one to two hours if they’re not. When changing diapers, ensure your tot’s bottom is dry (except for diaper rash cream, which is fine) and don’t fasten them too tight – this can cause chafing. And of course, choose diapers that are free of fragrances and dyes – these can irritate babies’ sensitive skin.

If you use cloth diapers, wash according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t be tempted to add more soap to get them “extra clean” – this can actually be an irritant. Always do an extra rinse cycle to remove all traces of soap and detergent.

Each day, allow your tot some “diaper-free time” – trust us, they’ll love it. Lay them down on a clean towel, remove their diaper and watch as they kick and play. A good time to do this is just before their bath (in case they wet or soil themselves).

How to treat diaper rash

If your tot has diaper rash, first: don’t despair. With a few simple steps, she’ll be fine again very soon. Here’s what to do:

  • Check their diaper frequently and change as soon as it’s wet or soiled.
  • Clean the area with a cool, damp cloth (pat, don’t rub) and pat dry. If you’re using wipes, make sure they are fragrance free and don’t contain any nasties.
  • Apply a diaper rash cream to the affected area. Apply thickly, like frosting on a cake – this way, the cream both treats the rash and acts as a barrier between the skin and the diaper.

If the rash persists longer than three days, or if it gets worse, see your doctor. If your baby has other symptoms, like a fever or diarrhea, seek medical help.