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Patient education: Diaper rash (The Basics)

Patient education: Diaper rash (The Basics)

What is a diaper rash? — A diaper rash is a skin rash that happens anywhere in the area that is covered by a diaper. Diaper rashes are very common. They can occur in any baby or child who wears a diaper.

Most diaper rashes can be treated at home and go away after a few days.

What causes diaper rash? — Diaper rash can be caused by:

The urine or bowel movement in the diaper – These can irritate the skin. Diaper rashes are especially common after a baby has diarrhea or has taken antibiotic medicines.

Perfumes or dyes in a diaper that a baby's skin is allergic to

Skin conditions or infections that happen in the diaper area but are not caused by wearing a diaper

What are the symptoms of a diaper rash? — Symptoms depend on the cause of the rash. They can include:

Red, painful, or itchy skin (picture 1 and picture 2)

Raised, peeling, or scaly areas

Yellow blisters filled with fluid

If a baby's diaper rash is caused by a skin condition or infection, the rash can be on other body parts, too.

Should I see a doctor or nurse? — Most people can treat the rash at home and do not need to see a doctor or nurse. But you should see a doctor or nurse if:

The rash gets worse or doesn't get better after a few days of treatment

Your baby has diarrhea or a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or more

How should I treat the diaper rash? — To treat your baby's diaper rash, you should:

Take the diaper off to air out the skin as much as possible

Check your baby's diaper every 2 or 3 hours, and change it when it is wet

Change your baby's diaper right after each bowel movement

Gently clean the area covered by the diaper – Use warm water and a soft cloth. If you use soap, use one that is mild and unscented. If the skin is peeling or sore, you can use a plastic squeeze bottle filled with warm water. Pat the area dry with a soft towel afterward.

Put a skin ointment or paste on the area each time you change the diaper – Use a product that has zinc oxide or petrolatum in it.

Use disposable diapers instead of cloth diapers (when your baby has a diaper rash)

If the rash is severe or infected, your doctor might prescribe a medicine for you to use on the area.

How can diaper rashes be prevented? — To help prevent your baby from getting a diaper rash, you can:

Change your baby's diaper often

Clean the diaper area gently – Use warm water and a soft cloth. If you use soap, use one that is mild and unscented. Pat the area dry with a soft towel afterward.

Use unscented baby wipes without alcohol (if you use baby wipes)

Use a diaper ointment or paste on the area each time you change the diaper

More on this topic

Patient education: Contact dermatitis (The Basics)
Patient education: Diarrhea in children (The Basics)

Patient education: Diaper rash in infants and children (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Contact dermatitis (including latex dermatitis) (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: Seborrheic dermatitis (including dandruff and cradle cap) (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Nov 01, 2022.
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