Your baby has a bright red bottom and cries after urinating? It could be diaper rash, a common, yet painful condition known medically as diaper dermatitis. Luckily there are easy ways to address this problem.
How to recognize diaper rash
Infant diaper rash typically appears as redness on the lower abdomen, buttocks and genitalia, in the area under and around the diaper. The rash can also spread to the thighs. Skin is painful and warm to the touch.
As the name suggests, diapers are a common cause of diaper rash. Both cloth and disposable diapers create a warm, moist environment and trap urine and feces against the skin. Left untreated, diaper rash can lead to infection, which is why it should be taken care of quickly.
Good to know!
When the ammonia in urine mixes with feces, it becomes more acidic, making it even more irritating for baby’s skin.
What causes diaper rash?
While one of the most common reasons for diaper rash is the close contact with moisture in a diaper, other factors can also cause the rash:
- Prolonged contact with urine and feces, particularly with diarrhea (the higher acid content of feces irritates skin).
- Friction or rubbing from a diaper that is too tight.
- Pre-existing skin conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis.
- Contact with irritating chemical agents found in products like fabric softeners, detergents, lotions, perfume, soaps.
- Antibiotics (they upset the normal balance of good bacteria in the body, which can lead to the proliferation of other microbes).
Good to know!
Breastfed babies generally experience fewer bouts of diaper rash because their stool is smaller and they have fewer bowel movements than formula-fed babies. This means the stool is less likely to irritate skin.
Preventing and treating diaper rash
There are several ways to prevent or alleviate diaper rash:
- Change your baby’s diaper as soon as it gets wet or soiled, even at night.
- Avoid diapers that are too tight and plastic underpants that retain moisture.
- Do not use irritating cleansers or scented products (e.g. alcohol-based products, baby wipes, lotions).
- Gently wash your baby’s bottom with lukewarm water and mild soap after each diaper change.
- Let your baby go bare-bottomed whenever possible.
- If using cloth diapers, always place a disposable liner inside.
- Thoroughly dry your baby’s skin before putting on a new diaper.
- Apply petroleum jelly (it protects skin) or zinc oxide (it heals the rash) to create a moisture barrier.
Complications of diaper rash
If you follow the above measures, the redness and bumps will normally disappear after three or four days. If you do not see any improvement or if you notice blisters or sores in the affected area, accompanied by surrounding patches of dried blood or crusty skin, you should see a doctor. Your baby may have a fungal infection.
This is because heat and moisture create the perfect environment for the growth of yeast that causes fungal infection. This type of infection needs to be treated with an anti-fungal cream. Before your doctor’s appointment, avoid using scented products on the irritated area and follow the other prevention tips listed above.
Do you have questions about infant diaper rash and how to treat it? Talk to your family pharmacists for expert advice! They can prescribe* medications for certain minor health problems, including diaper rash, when the treatment and diagnosis are already known. A consultation will also be required so the pharmacist can make sure your baby meets the prescribing criteria.
To avail yourself of this service, you may need to book an appointment with your family pharmacist. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more details. Some Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer an online appointment booking service. To locate the store nearest you providing this service, click here.
*Certain conditions must be respected. Fees may apply. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more information. Pharmacists alone are responsible for the practice of pharmacy. They offer related services only on behalf of pharmacist-owners.