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Diaper Rash

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What causes diaper rash?

Diaper rash is most often caused by the contact of urine and stool with the skin. Sometimes it is caused by a yeast infection, which is more common after a child has taken antibiotics. Breastfed babies may also get yeast infections when their mothers take antibiotics. Diaper rash can occur with cloth or disposable diapers.

How to care for a diaper rash

  • Change diapers often. Check diaper area about every hour, and change immediately if wet or soiled.
  • Clean child’s diaper area with warm water and mild soap or non-soap cleanser.
  • Be sure to clean your child’s skin folds.
  • Diaper wipes are convenient but may sometimes cause irritation or sting open areas if they contain alcohol or perfume.
  • Allow air to get to diaper area during each change and make sure the area is dry before putting on the fresh diaper.
  • Apply protective cream and/or ointment containing zinc oxide (Balmex® or Desitin®) with each diaper change.
  • If the skin on your child’s bottom is bleeding and the skin is broken:
    • Use a thicker cream, such as Extra Protective Cream® (EPC) or Critic-aid®. These thicker creams provide a protective barrier.
    • When you change your child’s diapers, wipe his/her bottom gently with gauze or soft cloth moistened with water. Do not rub the skin.
    • Do not remove all of the cream when you clean your child. It is important to leave a layer of the cream on the broken skin to protect against further breakdown.
    • Apply more of the thick cream to your child’s bottom before applying a clean diaper.

When to call your child’s doctor

  • The rash is not getting better in 7 days or seems to be getting worse.
    • If the rash on your child’s bottom is bleeding, blistered, or raw
    • Your baby has white spots in his/her mouth that do not wipe off (thrush). This is a sign of yeast infection. If the diaper rash is caused by a yeast infection, the doctor will give you a prescription for an antifungal cream. Other diaper creams will not cure diaper rashes caused by yeast infections.
  • Your child has a fever over 101.5º F.
  • If you have any questions or concerns.

How to prevent diaper rash

  • Change your child’s diaper often.
  • Clean the skin with warm water and mild soap or non-soap cleanser.
  • If you use cloth diapers, use bleach in the wash to disinfect the diapers.
  • Apply a protective cream or ointment after each diaper change to help prevent diaper rash.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 04-2013

(757) 668-7000