Diaper Rash

Diaper rash is a very common infection that can cause a baby's skin to become sore, red, scaly, and tender. In most cases, the rash occurs because the skin is irritated by diapers that are too tight; soiled diapers that are left on for too long; or certain brands of detergent, diapers, and baby wipes.

Diaper rash usually can be cleared up by checking your baby's diaper often, and changing it as soon as it's wet or soiled, and by using a zinc oxide cream or ointment to soothe skin and protect it from moisture.

When a diaper rash lasts for more than 3 days, even with changes to the diapering routine, it's usually caused by candida, a yeast-like fungus. This form of the rash is usually red, slightly raised, and has small red dots extending beyond the main part of the rash. It typically starts in the creases of skin and can spread to skin on the front and back of the baby. It usually goes away after treatment with antifungal creams, which can be prescribed by your doctor.

Preventing Diaper Rash

The best way to prevent diaper rash is by keeping your baby's skin as dry and clean as possible and changing diapers often so that feces and urine won't irritate the skin. The plastic that prevents diapers from leaking also prevents air circulation, thus creating a warm, moist environment where rashes and fungi can thrive.

To prevent diaper rash:

  • change your baby's soiled or wet diapers as soon as possible
  • occasionally soak your baby's bottom between diaper changes with warm water
  • allow your baby's skin to dry completely before you put on another diaper

If you use cloth diapers, rinse them several times after washing to remove any traces of soap or detergent that can irritate your baby's skin. Avoid using fabric softeners — even these can irritate the skin.

Some experts suggest allowing your baby to go without diapers for several hours each day to give irritated skin a chance to dry and "breathe." This is easiest if you place your baby in a crib with waterproof sheets.

Treating Diaper Rash

Diaper rash usually goes away within 2 to 3 days with home care. If it persists, or if sores start to appear on your baby's skin, talk to your doctor.