The first time you discover a scattering of tiny red bumps on your baby’s sweet bottom, you’re bound to be a little freaked. But diaper rash is pretty much part of the baby package — at least half of the diaper-clad contingent develop it at some point — and some seem to sport one just about all the time.
You can expect diaper rash — a reddish skin irritation on your baby's bottom and inner thighs — to remain a potential problem as long as your little one is in diapers. But these tips and treatment suggestions should help heal that pesky, sometimes painful problem, as well as ward off recurrences.
Types of diaper rash
There are many different types of diaper rash, including:
Is diaper rash cream a good idea?
Prevention is the best cure for diaper rash. Spreading a thick, protective layer of ointment or cream on baby's bottom after cleaning it at changing time can help prevent diaper rash or relieve an existing rash and avoid irritating it further.
There are two types: petroleum-based products (like A&D ointment or plain old petroleum jelly) and those containing zinc-oxide (like Desitin or Balmex). Every baby’s bottom is different, so experiment to see which diaper rash cream works best for treating and preventing diaper rash on your little one.
Before you spread the ointment or cream on baby's bottom, make sure her skin is completely dry. Trapped moisture beneath the barrier cream can make diaper rash more likely — or make a bad case of diaper rash worse.
Be sure to slather it on thickly, like icing, and gently. Don’t worry about removing it completely at each diaper change — rubbing and scrubbing is likely to damage your baby’s skin and make it more rash-prone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends skipping over-the-counter ointments that contain an antibiotic, since some ingredients in those products can actually worsen skin irritation.
Other diaper rash treatments
If diaper rash does develop, you may consider also trying alternative treatments to help clear it up, such as:
While some people have found success with these types of alternative treatments, they’re not guaranteed to work. You may want to discuss them with your baby’s doctor before giving them a go.
What causes diaper rash?
A combination of factors often contribute to your baby’s diaper rash, including:
Since that pretty much sums up what your baby's bottom is exposed to most of the day and night, it's no wonder she (like many of her compadres-in-diapers) isn't always sitting pretty.
What does diaper rash look like?
Wondering what diaper rash looks like on your little one's tender skin? The telltale sign is a red, inflamed rash on your baby’s genitals, bottom or thighs. It may be mild, or it can cover a large portion of the diaper area. Sometimes, it can spread beyond the diaper region. In worse cases, it can lead to pimples, blisters or sores that may open up and start to ooze fluid or puss.
Your baby may express discomfort by fussing or crying when the area is washed or wiped during diaper changes.
Here are some photos to check your baby's bottom against. But remember: When in doubt, confirm it with your pediatrician and don't try to diagnose your baby at home.
Home remedies to prevent diaper rash
To keep your baby's tender tush in tip-top shape, it's best to take a preventive approach to diaper rash. Try these baby-tested strategies (which should also help heal any existing rash):
When to call the doctor about baby diaper rash
If you’re concerned about diaper rash, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most common reasons parents reach out to their baby’s pediatrician.
It may be a good time to check in with your baby’s doctor if:
Your baby's pediatrician may prescribe a topical antifungal cream or ointment, a steroid cream, or (much less likely) an oral antibiotic to help get rid of the diaper rash.Remember: Few baby bottoms escape diaper rash altogether — it comes with the diaper-wearing territory. But even if you can't prevent diaper rash completely, there's plenty you can do to keep those breakouts to a minimum.
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