Discovery Point Blog

March 10, 2020

Diapering Basics and Tips for Preventing Diaper Rash

While most parents know that diaper rash is basically inevitable at some point, it can still come as a shock the first time you notice those irritated red bumps on your baby’s bottom. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help promote healthy skin, prevent irritation, and keep your baby comfortable while he or she is in diapers every day.

Understanding Diaper Rash

The diaper area is a perfect storm of moisture, friction, and sensitive skin making it particularly vulnerable to developing rashes and irritation. What causes diaper rash? There are many possible culprits:

  • Yeast thrives in warm, wet environments. It often also makes an appearance and causes certain types of rashes to become more persistent. 
  • Enzymes and irritants from urine and feces can cause a rash if not cleaned quickly and thoroughly.
  • Ingredients found in wipes, detergents, and disposable diapers can also cause a rash if they do not agree with your baby’s skin.
  • Rashes can even be related to new foods that the baby is eating, antibiotics (even those present in the mother’s milk), and other dietary changes. 

With all of these variables at play, it’s certainly no wonder you may find your baby has a rash every now and then. With some preventative care techniques, you can keep these rashes from affecting his or her comfort and overall health.

6 Tips for Preventing Diaper Rash

These tips will keep your baby’s bottom clean and dry, preventing excessive outbreaks of diaper rash and helping to heal areas that are already irritated:

  1. Do immediate and frequent diaper changes. Changing your baby’s diaper right after it’s been soiled is key to diaper rash prevention. Otherwise, the skin will be exposed to moisture and enzymes that can increase the likelihood of a nasty rash. Even if your baby appears comfortable and unbothered by a freshly soiled diaper, it’s important to take the initiative in keeping that bottom clean and dry, especially if they are prone to diaper rash or recovering from one.
  2. Air dry when possible. Providing your baby’s skin with plenty of time to dry out before putting another diaper on keeps the moisture from the previous diaper from transferring over. Just be sure to put down a towel or other absorbent material to avoid any accidents from happening in the meantime. Of course, you might not have time to spare in between every diaper change—that’s when a quick fan-dry can come in handy.
  3. Go diaper-free. Allowing your baby to go without diapers for a few hours each day provides constantly-diapered skin time to breathe and heal. It can be incredibly effective at reducing irritation. Placing your baby on a few diapering cloths or blankets can reduce any messes. This is a time-trusted technique when a baby can’t seem to break the cycle of getting and healing from a diaper rash. 
  4. Avoid super-snug diapers. While you don’t want any leaks to occur from wrapping your baby’s diaper too loosely, you also don’t want it to be so snug that rubbing and chafing becomes inevitable. If you find that your diapers always seem to be on the small side, it’s probably time to go up a size.
  5. Opt for irritant-free products. Perfumed detergents, scented baby wipes, and alcohol in soaps can make baby’s skin unhappy and worsen areas of irritation. Instead of using wipes during the newborn stage, try a washcloth soaked in warm water to soothe sensitive skin. If it appears that your baby is particularly prone to developing rashes, you may want to try using only water for a period of time to see if soap-based products have been causing the irritation.
  6. Use a protective ointment. At every diaper change, apply a zinc oxide or petroleum jelly ointment as a barrier to the skin. A thick layer of ointment helps prevent moisture from making its way to the skin and thus works to heal irritation. Just be sure that no moisture is present before applying the ointment—otherwise, you may be trapping it next to their skin.

When Should You Get Your Doctor Involved?

If your baby’s skin condition is only getting worse despite your home treatment efforts, it may be time to speak with your doctor. In some cases, prescription medication may be needed to treat certain types of diaper rash that aren’t responding to normal measures.

Give your doctor a call if your baby’s rash:

  • Is bleeding, oozing, or itchy
  • Appears at the same time as a fever
  • Results in pain during urination or bowel movements

Diaper rash isn’t something to panic about. However, as it can cause your child discomfort, it’s not unusual to worry when you see a rash appear. Give our tips a try to keep diaper rash at bay, and remember that a clean and dry bottom will keep your baby feeling their best.