Diaper Rash

By: Maryann Terzella, MD

If you’ve ever been around a child who is still in diapers, you know that one of the most common issues you encounter is the dreaded diaper rash. And, if you are at all like me, you immediately want to know how to get rid of it and if you need to bring your child to the doctor.

The classic diaper rash shows up on the parts of the skin that come in direct contact with the diaper without any rash in the skin folds. As parents, our natural tendency is to try and get every nook and cranny squeaky clean with each diaper change, but that obsessive wiping can actually make the rash worse.

So what is a poor parent to do? Let’s dive into diaper rash 101…

First off, what should you do to try and prevent a rash from coming at all?

  • I always tell parents to change the diapers as frequently as possible (regardless of whether you’re using cloth or disposable). The less time the child’s skin is spent rubbing against a moist diaper, the better.
  • Think gentle, not clean. When wiping, try and use water based wipes or even consider rinsing your little one’s rear with warm water instead of using wipes at all. Then, pat dry with a soft cloth. If there are any stubborn spots, you can use some oil (mineral or coconut) to gently remove any residue. Again, we are trying to avoid friction as much as possible.

Okay so you were the perfect parent and followed the above guidelines but, your child still got a nasty rash. So, next up…How do you get rid of a diaper rash?

  • At each diaper change, apply a good barrier cream that has Zinc Oxide as the main ingredient. Be very liberal with the amount (think: frosting a cupcake). Note: Do not try and wipe all the cream off at each diaper change. Just pat away any residue during changes and apply another layer of the barrier cream to whatever is still on the skin. You may do a good thorough removal of the barrier once a day, using oil to remove any stubborn spots.
  • Air time is your friend. For your newborn/infant, you can take advantage of tummy time and let them be bare bottomed while they strengthen their neck muscles. Simply have your child do tummy time while on a towel, waterproof diaper pad, or on a disposable changing pad. For the older infants, letting them hang out in their birthday suit for a few minutes (or as long as you can tolerate) will be extremely helpful for letting the irritated area dry out. 
  • Baking soda baths are also a good trick to tackle a stubborn diaper rash. For those babies still using an infant tub, add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to warm bath water. Soak baby’s bottom for 5-10 minutes once or twice a day. For those infants and toddlers able to sit on their own in the tub, add 4 tablespoons of baking soda to warm bath water (enough to just cover your child’s bottom) and have them soak for 10 min once or twice a day. Please note: the baking soda will make the skin and tub very slippery, so use caution when taking the child out of the tub and also when allowing the child to stand up or crawl in the tub. As always, never leave your child unattended during a bath for any amount of time.

While the above methods do typically help, there are of course times when a stubborn diaper rash just will not quit. In those cases, What should you do?

  • Go ahead and make an appointment to see your child’s pediatrician. By looking at the rash, we can get a better idea whether there is something else going on, such as a yeast or bacterial infection of the skin.
  • Once we take a look at the rash, we can recommend other treatments to try and help you and your little one get out of the debilitating diaper rash cycle.
  • Can’t come in to our office? As always, feel free to call us at (864) 272-0388 and speak to one of our triage nurses.

Hang in there parents and happy diapering!

Until next time,

Dr. Maryann Terzella

Parkside Provider, Italian food junkie, and lover of all things acapella

  • Infant