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Newborns easily need around 10-12 diaper changes every day. Using cloth in such case may be very difficult as the mom needs to frequently check the baby, and keep changing the cloth. At the same time, it might be very inconvenient for the baby too, if the baby is left unnoticed for few hours thinking that he/she is sleeping, but actually he has wetted his clothes, and is lying there until someone notices and changes it. To avoid all such messy things, many parents prefer using disposable diapers. Disposable diapers are made of simple absorbent pad that is sandwiched between two sheets of non woven fabric. As diapers are not natural fabric nor they are smooth on the delicate and sensitive skin of babies, they cause rashes in many babies.
About diaper rashes
The term diaper rash is an umbrella word or a generalized term that is used for any type of rash or allergy in the nappy region. It is a very common condition in babies who use diapers for a long time. Diaper rashes are mild red rashes that are caused in the buttocks, thighs, and in the genital region of the baby where the diaper touches the baby’s skin. Diaper rashes are usually associated to wet diapers or infrequent changing of the diapers, using plastic pants to cover the diaper, and also due to diarrhea. In some babies, the moist, warm, and closed region becomes a comfortable place for the bacteria and yeast to grow, and cause infection. Diaper rashes are common in babies who are below 2 years of age; it starts in during the first or second month of age and may continue until the baby stops wearing diapers. Diaper rashes are also called as nappy rashes or diaper dermatitis.
The main cause of diaper rash is skin irritation. If a diaper is too tight, it may rub against the skin and cause irritation. Rashes or irritations can also be caused when the baby is left unattended in a wet or dirty diaper for a long time. When the skin is wet for a long time, the skin becomes soft and starts to break down, when it is rubbed against wet or soiled diaper. Skin irritations can also be caused by detergents or soap that is used to wash cloth diapers. Few brands of disposable diapers and baby wipes may also cause irritation. Plastic pants that are worn over the diapers do not allow proper air circulation and can make a perfect moist, warm, and dark environment for the yeast or fungus to grow. Diaper rash that do not go away even after changing diaper habits may result in yeast or fungal infection caused by Candida albicans. Diaper rash is also caused when the baby or the mother, who is breast feeding, are on antibiotics for ear and throat infections. When babies are introduced to change of food, the feces also sometime result in diaper rashes. Diarrhea can make the diaper rash even worse as the stool contains acids.
Diaper rash (or “diaper dermatitis”) is a catchall term for a variety of skin conditions characterized by rashes on the buttocks, thighs, and genital area of diapered babies. (While incontinent or paralyzed individuals can also get diaper rashes, the problem is primarily pediatric.)
The primary cause of diaper rash is simple skin irritation. Many parents prefer disposable diapers, for convenience, but disposable diapers can chafe the delicate and sensitive skin of babies, causing rashes. Rashes can also result from a child being allowed to remain in a wet or soiled diaper for a long time. When skin is wet for a long time, it softens, and makes chafing easier.
Skin irritations can also be caused by detergents used to wash cloth diapers, or a reaction to a component of baby wipes.
Dark, warm, and damp environments, like a diaper, are a favored breeding ground of bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. Diaper rashes that do not go away even after changing diaper habits may be the result of yeast or fungal infection.
Diarrhea can worsen diaper rash, as the loose stool contains acids.
- Red rashes in the thighs, buttocks, lower stomach, and genital areas
- Pimples or blisters or sores in the nappy region
- Scaling of skin
- Red spots
- Red patches that spreads beyond the diaper region
- Ulcers or pus filled sores
- If infected, the skin may be bright red and swollen
- Tender skin
- Sometimes, the spots may ooze out
Babies will be more uncomfortable in diapers and cries when the region is washed or touched
When a baby is taken to doctor for treating diaper rashes, doctor may prescribe creams or ointment that contains zinc oxide or petroleum, as it helps to sooth the damaged skin and also due to its oily nature, it protects the skin from moisture. These creams should be applied as thick icing on every diaper change. In case the baby develops a fungal or bacterial infection, depending on the type of infection, doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal cream or an antibiotic cream or a mild steroid, if swelling is seen. Apart from all these, parents should try to keep their baby’s skin as dry and clean as possible. Do not apply powder, corn starch or oil on the rashes.
The diaper rashes can be prevented. The diaper area of baby should be kept clean and dry, and the diaper should be changed as soon as it gets wet or soiled. The area should be cleaned with warm water, with or without mild soap. It is better to let the baby go without diaper whenever possible. Loose diapers can also be used to avoid diaper rashes. The baby should be made to sleep on open cloth diaper, and it should be checked immediately after he/she sleeps, as babies urinate immediately after sleep. Scented baby wipes and soaps should not be used, as the alcohol in it can cause irritation. The wipes, soaps or diaper should be changed, if rashes persist. Plastic pants over the diaper should not be used. If cloth diapers are used, then it should be washed properly and rinsed twice to clear away all the soap.
- Red rashes on the thighs, buttocks, lower stomach, and/or genital areas
- Pimples or blisters or sores in an area covered by a diaper
- Scaly skin
- Red spots
- Red patches
- Ulcers or sores
- Bright red, swollen, or tender skin
Diaper rash is painful. Babies will be more uncomfortable in diapers and may express discomfort when the region is washed or touched
Parents should try to keep their baby’s skin as dry and clean as possible.
Diaper rash is primarily treated with creams or ointments containing zinc oxide, as it helps to sooth the damaged skin while protecting the skin from moisture. These creams should be applied heavily during every diaper change, preferably to air-dried skin. Do not apply powder, cornstarch, or oil to rashes.
If a fungal or bacterial infection develops, the doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal cream, an antibiotic cream, or even a mild steroid cream.
Though it is extremely common, diaper rash can be prevented. The diapered area should be kept as clean and dry as possible, and the diaper changed as soon as it gets wet or soiled. During diaper changes, let the skin dry before applying the new diaper. Loosely-worn diapers can also help avoid diaper rash. Babies can also be allowed to sleep on an open cloth diaper, and should be checked frequently during sleep, as babies often urinate immediately after falling asleep.