Q: My infant seems particularly prone to diaper rash—what could be triggering it, and how should I treat it?
A: Most babies will experience a case of diaper rash by age 3. If your baby is particularly prone, it’s important to get to the root cause, so you can ease her discomfort.
There are several common triggers:
- Wet diapers left on too long. It’s not uncommon for babies to sit in wet diapers when their parents get busy. Life happens. However, a wet, warm environment is the perfect place for yeast to breed.
- Irregular bowel movements. Babies with loose or frequent bowel movements can be more prone to diaper rash. Loose stools can be caused by an illness or antibiotics.
- Diapers that are too tight. Diapers that are too small can create the perfect warm, wet environment to encourage a yeast overgrowth.
The best way to treat diaper rash is to prevent it. Frequent diaper changes are
key. Also, when changing, clean the area with a wipe and then apply a barrier cream. For naps or overnight, a diaper cream with zinc oxide can lock in moisture and provide
a protective layer between the skin and dirty diapers.
If your baby develops diaper rash despite your best efforts, follow these steps for
- Change diapers even more frequently, still cleaning well.
- Let her go diaperless for a while to allow the skin to breathe.
- Use a wet washcloth with each diaper change, which can be more soothing than
- Apply a diaper cream with zinc oxide at every diaper change—instead of just at night—to create a protective barrier for her skin. If the diaper rash progresses and becomes full-blown with red bumps, start applying a diaper cream containing clotrimazole. This ingredient will help to battle the yeast that is present in the diaper area.
- Try a different brand. If your baby has repeated rounds of diaper rash, consider trying a different brand of diaper. It could be a diaper ingredient or friction due to the way the diaper fits your baby that is causing the rash.
- Call the experts. If your baby’s diaper rash does not improve over the course of two to three days, see your pediatrician or dermatologist.
Try not to worry by paying close attention to the triggers of your baby’s diaper rash, and following the steps above, you’ll have her delicate rear cleared and soothed in no time.
—Amy Kim, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Baby Pibu, a line of infant skin care products