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Infant and Child Health

Diaper Rash

Prevention - Home Treatment - When to Call a Health Professional

Diaper rash is a skin reaction, usually to the moisture and bacteria in a baby's urine and stools, to the soap used to wash diapers, or to disposable diapers. While it is uncomfortable, diaper rash is usually not dangerous.

Symptoms of the rash are a red bottom and thighs. It will be easier for you to recognize diaper rash after you have seen it the first time.

Prevention

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  • Change diapers as soon as possible after they have been soiled or wet.

  • As often as possible, leave your baby's skin open to the air for 5 to 10 minutes before applying a clean diaper.

  • Wash diapers with mild detergent or soap (such as Ivory Snow), and rinse twice. Do not use bleach.

  • If your baby has frequent diaper rash, avoid using plastic pants for a while. They trap moisture against the baby's skin.

  • When your baby has diarrhea, protect the diaper area with zinc oxide or Barriere cream.

Home Treatment

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  • Stop using plastic pants when the rash appears.

  • Change diapers frequently. Using a washcloth and water, rinse the skin in the diaper area at every diaper change. Allow the diaper area to air dry if possible. Wash the area with a mild soap once a day.

  • Try protecting the skin with Barriere cream or zinc oxide cream. Apply cream only to dry skin. Discontinue creams if a rash develops or they appear to slow healing.

  • Try another brand of disposable diapers. Some babies tolerate one kind better than another.

  • Avoid bulky or multilayered diapers.

  • Try changing detergents if the rash does not clear.

When to Call a Health Professional

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  • If the diaper rash becomes very red, raw, or sore-looking, or if it has blisters, pus, peeling areas, or crusty patches.

  • If the rash is mainly in the skin creases, because this may indicate a yeast infection.

  • If a significant rash lasts longer than 5 days.

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