Diaper rash, or diaper dermatitis, is caused by prolonged exposure to wet or soiled diapers. The urine’s wet consistency causes the skin to be tender and become irritated or inflamed. Diaper rash can occur with snug-fitting diapers, either disposable or cloth. While most babies develop diaper rash at some time – especially during the first 10 months of life – the rash occurs less often in breastfed babies. Fortunately, diaper rash is usually not a serious problem.
Factors that may contribute to diaper rash or dermatitis include:
- Babies whose diapers are not kept clean and dry
- Diarrhea, which is acidic and tends to burn or irritate the skin around the anus and buttocks
- When baby starts solids, likely because of the acidic content of solids foods
- Using coloured diapers – sometimes the dye itself may irritate a child’s bottom
- A fungal or yeast infection caused by candida which occurs especially when a baby has taken antibiotics recently
How is diaper rash treated?
Once a rash develops, the goal is to keep the area clean and protected. This is achieved by:
- Changing the diaper as soon as possible after a bowel movement and cleaning the area with a soft cloth and warm water, rinsing and drying it well
- Using barrier creams applied to the skin in the diaper area. These creams or ointments serve to protect the already-irritated skin
In severe cases of diaper dermatitis, a special cream or ointment containing a small amount of hydrocortisone may be necessary. A doctor can easily assess whether or not such a treatment is needed.
About candidial diaper rash
Candida is a fungus that causes infections of the skin. When this fungus infects the skin in the diaper areas, it is called a candidial diaper rash. The rash tends to occur in the creases, in the groin, in the skin folds and buttocks and is usually very red with smaller spots called “satellite” lesions. There are usually no other associated signs or symptoms. The rash is painless and is not itchy. A doctor can easily recognize this type of rash. The treatment of candidial diaper rash is the application of a prescribed cream containing an anti-fungal medication. This cream should be applied during diaper changes, after washing the area with mild soap and warm water and drying it. To avoid spread of the candida germ to others, parents should wash their hands carefully after the diaper change. This rash starts to go away within a few days after starting the treatment.
Diaper rash prevention
Here are some tips on how to prevent diaper rash:
- Change your baby’s wet diaper frequently
- Keep your baby out of a diaper for short periods to allow the skin to dry
- Avoid coloured diapers
- Make sure that the diaper or plastic pants is not too tight as to allow air to circulate inside the diaper
- If you think your child has a candida infection, contact your physician