A baby’s soft, smooth skin is delicate, making it susceptible to diaper rash, a common and mild irritation of the skin that causes redness in the area where the diaper is worn. Most cases of diaper rash are caused by excessive moisture from leaving a wet or soiled diaper on for too long. The baby’s skin becomes red, irritated and prone to chafing. Painful sores can develop, and the baby becomes vulnerable to yeast and bacterial infections.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half of babies between 4 months and 15 months of age will experience diaper rash at least one time in a two-month period. Diaper rash is most common between 8 to 10 months of age, or when a baby is introduced to solid foods, which increases the frequency of bowel movements.
Soothing Your Baby’s Diaper Rash
If your baby develops diaper rash, one way to improve its condition is to change his or her diaper frequently. Other helpful ways to treat diaper rash include:
- Rinsing the affected area with warm water and a soft washcloth
- Pat dry; never rub
- Avoid baby wipes that contain alcohol or are fragranced
- Allow your baby’s bottom to air out whenever possible
Preventing Diaper Rash
Parents may not be able to prevent diaper rash completely, but you can do a lot to keep the irritation to a minimum. The American Academy of Pediatric recommends the following steps to keep diaper rash at bay:
- Apply a heavy layer of diaper ointment or cream to your baby’s bottom after every change.
- Leave breathing room in the baby’s diaper, and avoid putting the diapers on too tightly as it will trap moisturize and prevent air circulation.
- Switch diaper brands or use extra absorbent diapers to whisk away moisture and keep skin dry.
- Change the baby’s diaper immediately after it becomes wet—this is the key to preventing diaper rash.
The good news is that preventing and treating a diaper rash is fairly easy, and most breakouts can be resolved in just a few days. Call your pediatrician if the rash won’t go away or doesn’t improve after a few days. You should also bring your child to see his or her pediatrician if the rash is accompanied by blisters, a fever or pain.