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What is a Diaper Rash?

A diaper rash can be the result of a variety of different conditions from eating foods that cause sensitivities in the infant to surface skin dermatitis to bacterial infections. Although symptoms may vary, the typical diaper rash presents as a red scaly rash that is inflamed. It will likely appear where the diaper touches the baby's skin.

In more severe cases of diaper rash, the skin may have blisters or lesions and the rash may spread outside of the diaper area if left untreated.

The infant experiencing the diaper rash may be irritable or restless, depending on the severity of the rash and the baby's individual level of sensitivity. He or she may cry when being changed and cleaned, as any friction on the irritated skin can cause intensified pain and discomfort.

Urine and feces as well as friction and moisture aggravate a diaper rash, therefore, frequent changing, gentle cleansing, and barrier ointments are important in helping the rash to heal. Additionally, the rash can be the result of ill-fitting diapers, soiled diapers that are left on for extended periods of time, or baby wipes to which the baby is allergic.

In some cases, there may be conditions in other areas of the body that may correspond with the diaper rash, giving an idea to the cause of the skin problem. For example, a rash caused by the overgrowth of candida albicans will present itself simultaneously with oral thrush. With seborrhea dermatitis, the baby may also have cradle cap or rashes in the folds of skin.

Diaper rashes that do not heal, seem severe, or present with other conditions or illnesses, should be treated by a medical professional. However, the following points give a few tips on proper diaper changing to help heal or prevent rashes:

•  Change the infant's diaper at the first sign of wetness or feces.

•  Wash the diaper area during the diaper change, using a mild soap or just warm water as well as a soft touch; be sure to gently rinse and dry thoroughly.

•  Make sure the diaper area is completely dry before putting on the new diaper.

•  Use a barrier cream to protect the skin from moisture and friction.

•  Use perfume- and dye-free wipes, diapers and soaps to avoid further irritating the baby's delicate skin.

Additional Reading: Diaper Rashes and Thrush


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