Do you ever feel like you’re surrounded by new babies? Such has been the case for me lately, as two of my closest friends have given birth in recent weeks. I’ve been having a wonderful time getting to know Audrey Elise and Emme Elizabeth, and being one of the veteran moms in this group, I’ve also received a few phone calls with questions about various baby care topics.
How to properly treat diaper rash is a question that virtually all parents will encounter at some point during their child’s infant and toddler years, and some babies are more prone to it than others. It’s important to be able to spot the different types of diaper rash and know when to call the doctor.
Causes of Diaper Rash
There are several possible causes of diaper rash, and identifying those causes may help prevent or minimize its occurrence.
• Irritation from stool or urine. Prolonged exposure can irritate a baby’s sensitive skin. Frequent diaper changes (particularly in the case of dirty diapers) will help limit outbreaks of diaper rash.
• Introduction of new foods. When solid foods are introduced, the content of the stool changes, which may increase the likelihood of developing diaper rash. Some breastfed babies may react similarly to something highly acidic eaten by the mother.
• Reaction to products. New diapers, wipes, powders, or lotions may cause a rash. Selecting dye- and fragrance-free products may help reduce the likelihood of developing diaper rash.
• Bacterial or yeast infection. The warm, moist nature of the diaper area can create a breeding ground for bacteria. These rashes often start within the creases of the skin and move outward. Frequent changing is a primary means of prevention, and using a barrier cream regularly can be helpful.
• Chafing or rubbing. Tight-fitting diapers or clothing that rubs against the skin may cause a rash, and can exacerbate an existing one.
• Antibiotic use. Antibiotics kill both bad and good bacteria, and without the proper balance of good bacteria, yeast infections can easily develop. Use of a probiotic during treatment and for several days after can maintain that balance and reduce the risk of yeast infection.
Types of Diaper Rash
The term “diaper rash” can actually describe a number of specific diaper area rashes, and treatment may differ slightly from one type to the next.
• Contact diaper rash is a simple diaper rash, and is unlikely to require prescription treatment in mild to moderate cases. This common type of rash typically clears up quickly, and may be prevented with the regular application of barrier creams or ointments.
• Intertrigo is a rash occurring within the skin folds and creases where the skin rubs together in the presence of heat and moisture. It may appear bumpy and red. In most cases, it can be treated and prevented in the same way as contact diaper rash.
• Yeast rash occurs when bacteria from the intestines begin to invade skin areas, and is common with antibiotic use or in cases where diaper rash has been prolonged. It is a red, raised rash with defined borders, and may have satellite spots outside the main border. A prolonged yeast rash may require a prescription to clear it up effectively, and the use of a probiotic can be beneficial.
• Impetigo occurs when bacteria begin to grow in areas of damaged skin. Coin-sized blisters may appear, and this type of rash may have a golden-brown crust oozing from the area. Prescription treatment is usually required.
• Seborrhea is a skin condition which can appear on other parts of the body, but can be more severe when it occurs in the diaper area. It is characterized by a raised, rough, thick patch of skin, which may be warm to the touch.
Treatment of Diaper Rash
Moore resident Lisa Huggins is a mom of two young kids—both in diapers—and a pharmacist. “Knowing which type of rash you’re dealing with is step one. For prevention, probiotics can be used in all babies, particularly those prone to skin rashes. Barrier creams or ointments, such as lanolin or petrolatum can work as a preventative and may help treat mild cases of contact diaper rash or intertrigo,” she says. “Many parents love Butt Paste products, which are a combination of boric acid, Peruvian balsam, and zinc oxide in a petrolatum base.”
For stubborn cases of contact diaper rash, a prescription cholestyramine ointment works by binding up the bile acids and pulling them away from the skin. “This is usually compounded in a petrolatum or lanolin base and is great for moderate to severe stool rashes. I’ve seen it clear up a bad rash within a day or two in many cases.”
For seborrhea, steroid creams are typically recommended. “These are available in both over-the-counter and prescription forms, but make sure you have properly identified the rash before trying this treatment,” says Huggins. “For impetigo, antibiotic creams are usually prescribed.”
If the rash turns into a yeast infection, an anti-fungal cream will be necessary, in most cases, to treat it. “Over-the-counter probiotics can really help prevent and treat yeast rash, but in some cases, it may take a prescription anti-fungal like nystatin or clotrimazole. You can start with an over-the-counter product such as miconazole, but if it doesn’t clear up, a visit to the pediatrician is going to be necessary.”
Most new parents and caregivers will encounter diaper rash at some point during the first few years of a child’s life. When diaper rash strikes, being able to properly identify and treat the condition is key to keeping baby comfortable and happy!
Shannon Fields is a freelance writer from Edmond and a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Innovative Pharmacy Solutions.