When your baby’s bottom is red and sore, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve done something wrong as a parent. But almost every baby gets diaper rash at least once before outgrowing diapers. This can be painful for your baby and upsetting for you, so what is diaper rash and how can you prevent it?
Diaper rash is a form of dermatitis, which is a skin irritation or inflammation that’s confined to your baby’s diaper area around the buttocks, genitals and thighs. When your baby has a diaper rash the skin in one or more of those areas will appear red and puffy and will feel warmer than other areas of your baby’s skin. He might appear fussy or cry, especially when you touch him in that area.
When your baby is wearing a diaper, that diaper can keep his bottom warm and damp, which is the most common reason for diaper rash. If the diaper or other clothing fits too snuggly it can also chafe and irritate baby’s sensitive skin, leading to diaper rash. Other reasons include urine and stool irritating baby’s skin, a change in stool when your baby begins to eat new foods after six months of age, bacteria or a yeast infection and, occasionally, it is caused by a reaction or allergy to a product such as laundry detergent or lotion, or to the fragrance in such products.
While diaper rash can’t always be prevented, there are several things you can do to decrease the chance that your baby with get it.
- Change your baby’s diapers often, especially when they are soiled with stool.
- Clean your baby’s diaper area and then apply a layer of petroleum jelly or zinc oxide ointment over the area before putting on a fresh diaper.
- Make sure the diaper isn’t over-tightened.
- Diaper liners and breathable covers for cloth diapers can help to keep your baby’s skin drier.
- Wash cloth diapers in hot water and mild detergent, after pre-soaking them if heavily soiled. Avoid fabric softeners and fragrances.