What to know when diaper rash makes an appearance

Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner

Time saver 3 min read

Your little one is all out of sorts. And when it’s time for a diaper change, you quickly discover why. Their red, puffy and sore-looking skin is a telltale sign of diaper rash – an inflammation of the skin typically caused by exposure to a wet or soiled diaper. When your child has diaper rash, you need to know how to quickly soothe and heal their skin and keep future flare ups at bay. Thankfully with the right at-home care, medications and time – diaper rash is fairly easy to treat.

Getting to the bottom of diaper rash

Young children’s skin is delicate and tends to be really sensitive. And a diaper-clad bottom – and the warm and moist environment it creates – provides ideal conditions for skin irritation and rashes. This is especially true when a diaper becomes soiled or soaked in urine. But diaper rash can develop in other ways too. And getting to the bottom of what’s behind your little’s one’s rash can sometimes take a bit of detective work.

Questions to consider when dealing with diaper rash

  • Diaper-changing cadence off? A good rule of thumb is to change your baby’s diaper every two to three hours. But this timeframe tends to be shorter for newborns and longer for toddlers. The bottom line is that wet or soiled diapers can irritate your child’s skin and lead to diaper rash. And the longer their skin is exposed to these irritants, the more likely they are to develop a rash. That’s why it’s important to check your little one’s diaper often and – when wet or soiled – change it as soon as possible.
  • Diaper too tight? No one likes to wear undergarments that are too small or tight – including your little one. And when an ill-fitting diaper rubs against your baby’s skin, the friction can quickly lead to skin irritation, chafing and diaper rash. Check that your baby’s diaper is the right size for their weight and make sure a diaper isn’t fastened too tightly.
  • New products in the mix? The baby section at any big-box retailer is filled with products promising solutions to all sorts of issues. But could that new lavender-infused baby bubble bath be the source of your little one’s rashy bottom? Pay attention to whether your baby’s rash crops up or flares after using a new soap, detergent or brand of diapers or wipes.
  • Dietary changes? As your child grows, they need more solid foods. And the introduction of new foods can change the consistency of your baby’s stool and how often they poop. Introduce new foods slowly and keep track of foods or drinks that tend to bring on or worsen diaper rash.
  • Breastfeeding? Breastmilk provides the vital nutrients and vitamins your baby needs to grow and thrive. But it also contains traces of everything you eat and ingest – from that spicy burrito to the round of antibiotics you were recently prescribed. The next time your little one’s bottom is sore, think about the things you could unknowingly be passing along.

How to treat diaper rash

There are a multitude of baby products that promise to keep your little one’s derrière rash-free and happy. But when diaper rash sets in, all you want to know is what works. And the rash remedy your little one needs, will depend on the severity of their condition. For example, milder cases can typically be effectively treated with over-the-counter products like creams or ointments that contain zinc oxide or petroleum jelly. But if your child’s diaper rash worsens or refuses to go away, prescription medications like an antifungal or steroid cream can help.

Tips to prevent and soothe diaper rash

Most of the time, diaper rash can be managed at home. Here are some ways to ease your little one’s discomfort while helping prevent diaper rash in the future.

At-home diaper rash remedies

  • Hit the tub – Add ½ cup baking soda to a bath of lukewarm water
  • Keep dry – Change wet or soiled diapers ASAP
  • Ban wipes – Use a warm washcloth, which is gentler on skin, to clean diaper area
  • Provide a barrier – Apply an ointment cream like Vaseline or Desitin to protect skin
  • Air out – Let your little one go diaper-free when possible to help aid healing

You know your baby best. If your little one seems especially out of sorts or you notice any signs of a skin infection – including fever, blisters, drainage and/or bleeding from the sores – it’s time for an in-person visit to your pediatrician.

Online care for diaper rash

Parenthood comes with many trials and tribulations, including common conditions like diaper rash. And when rashes make an appearance, you need answers and a plan. That’s why Virtuwell’s online clinic is a parent’s best friend. Simply answer a few questions online, upload photos and our nurse practitioners will devise a personalized treatment plan to quickly soothe and clear up your little one’s skin – all without leaving home.

Share this post

Do you know someone who could use a simple & affordable healthcare option?