Sooner or later you’ll have to deal with this kind of dermatitis. As careful as you might be, by changing diapers as soon as the baby poops or not leaving the diaper soiled with urine for too long, diaper rash is common, especially during the summertime.
Why do these rashes pop up?
In the form of blemishes or red spots, sometimes with little bumps on the skin, diaper rash can show up in other parts of the body, not just near the diaper area. With the heat, it’s not uncommon for them to show up between the baby’s skin folds, especially around the neck, arms and legs. The causes can be varied: a proliferation of microorganisms due to the warm and moist environment, irritation caused by urine or feces, allergies from contact with an unspecified chemical or component, friction of the skin and even an infection caused by fungi or bacteria.
When it comes to dermatitis near the genitals, or diaper rash, the problem can be caused by prolonged exposure to urine or feces – bacteria from the feces transform the urine into ammonia, modifying the pH of the affected skin. But, there are children who react even to the smallest contact with feces – and, in this case, the problem might lie inside the makeup of the feces, usually more acidic, which is triggered by, among other factors, the ingestion of foods with higher acidity.
The growth of teeth is also a prime time for diaper rashes to occur, since it’s common for diarrhea to happen at that stage.
Heat can make it all a thousand times worse and, the more plastic there is on the diaper, the better the environment is for the proliferation of microorganisms. In some cases, the biggest culprit behind the diaper rash is the diaper itself.
How to avoid diaper rash?
The most important thing to do is to keep a good hygiene. Change diapers every three hours at the most and, if there are feces or the dampness of the urine is in contact with the child’s skin, don’t wait that long. At night, use diapers with higher absorption, to avoid leaving the baby in a wet diaper for a long period of time or having you change diapers multiple times throughout the night. Don’t put them on too tight – small diapers can also cause diaper rash, as they reduce the air circulation.
Hygiene of the genital area:
To clean, use only cotton balls and room temperature water – lukewarm water or hot water can cause or aggravate rashes. It’s crucial to dry the area well with a cloth before putting the diaper on, but without scratching or rubbing the region. On cold days, you can warm up the cotton ball with room temperature water in your own hand. If possible, wash their buttocks with running water whenever they poop – and, in this case, you can use hypoallergenic soap, preferably one that’s made for babies.
These should be avoided as they may contain chemicals that can irritate the baby’s sensitive skin – leave them for sporadic uses, such as when you go to the park, for example.
In many cultures, it’s customary to put a thin layer of rash cream after cleaning the baby, usually one that contains zinc oxide, lanolin, or dexpanthenol. This isn’t necessarily common everywhere in the world. The important part is that the preventative cream is not antifungal (that doesn’t contain nystatin, for example) nor should it include corticoids, so as to not make it harder for these types of creams to work when you need them to. The pediatrician is the only one who can recommend these types of products.
Pay attention to the amount of cream you use: if it’s too thick of a layer, there’s a risk of it coming off and forming a barrier that will coat the diaper, lowering its absorption power for urine, which will then be in contact with the skin for longer periods of time.
How to treat diaper rash?
Once the rash has set in, besides caring for hygiene and changing diapers more frequently, during each poop or pee, it’s important to use the cream to treat the problem and form a barrier on the skin – this way you can give the skin enough time to heal. Don’t use baby powder.
At home, try leaving your child diaper-less for as long as possible, so the skin can breathe and, if possible, expose the affected area to the sun, during adequate hours – in case your baby isn’t already crawling or walking, you can place them on a mattress or on top of a plastic tarp (those hygienic mats are great for this) and a thin cloth between the baby and the tarp, and without diaper rash cream.
You can also try homemade recipes and even some pediatricians recommend using corn starch in the baby’s bath water or on top of the diaper rash cream, due to its high absorption of humidity. But, other doctors believe the starch can make the problem worse in the case of fungal infections, such as candida.
If the rash persists for longer than three days, starts peeling off or the skin is showing signs of lesions and cuts with yellow pus, consult your pediatrician. It could be a fungal or bacterial infection, and only the doctor will be able to tell the difference and prescribe the proper treatment.