Diaper rash: common but (t) mostly preventable
Diaper rash is an extremely uncomfortable, but generally preventable condition that many babies experience. It is a form of dermatitis on the buttocks, genitals, or thigh folds. One of the main causes of this type of dermatitis is prolonged contact with moisture. Moisture causes the skin’s natural oils to shed from the outer layer of the skin, leading to increased susceptibility to bacterial infection, or sometimes a fungal infection.
Some babies are more prone to diaper rash than others. A flat red rash is likely due to the friction of the diaper on the baby’s delicate skin. This type of rash is usually closer to the edges of the waist or leg bands of the diaper. This type of rash does not usually cause much discomfort. This can also be caused by laundry detergents. These rashes should be easy to treat and avoid with due care.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a kind of cradle cap in the diaper area. It is equally flaky and oily and can be more pronounced in skin folds. Yeast is the most common infectious cause of diaper rash. The affected areas are rough and very red with well defined edges and lesions in the most severe cases. This type of dermatitis can occur after an illness is treated with antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria that normally keep the body’s natural yeast at bay. Persistent or repeated diaper rash caused by yeast infections may require medical attention, as the condition will not go away with standard treatments.
A baby with a blistering or bleeding skin rash should be seen by a doctor. Antibiotics may be prescribed for painful itching if it is caused by bacteria. This can be administered topically or systemically, depending on the size of the affected area and the severity of the infection.
Antifungal creams like Lotrimin, can be used to treat rashes caused by fungi. When a stronger focus is required, mild steroid creams such as 0.5-1% hydrocortisone can be used, as in the case of seborrheic dermatitis. Prescriptions are commonly used for the short-term treatment of stubborn cases.
There are alternative treatments for diaper rash. For starters, proper hygiene is the first line of defense in preventing simple cases of diaper rash. Wet or dirty diapers should be changed as soon as possible. A good idea is to let babies go diaper-free every day, just to air things out. Babies who are prone to more serious outbreaks of diaper rash do better with reusable cloth diapers rather than regular plastic disposable diapers. This is probably because cotton diapers breathe better than plastic ones. It may be necessary to experiment with different diapers to find out what works best for each baby.
Another thing to watch out for, especially in cases of severe diaper rash, is baby wipes. Some wipes contain alcohol or other additives that can irritate. A quick bath with a small amount of mild soap is the best way to clean a baby with a severe rash.
Barrier ointments can be helpful in treating skin rashes. White, pasty creams that contain zinc oxide are particularly effective. They will protect already irritated skin from chafing and irritation caused by urine and feces, especially diarrhea. Cornstarch powder works well for wet or oozing rashes.
Following a few of these simple guidelines will help resolve most common diaper rashes fairly quickly if there is no serious underlying associated skin condition. Frequent diaper changes are the most basic rule of thumb for keeping skin dry, healthy, and rash-free. Finding out what works best in terms of diapers and cleaning products for each baby will also go a long way toward preventing outbreaks of diaper rash.