By Nicole Pelletiere
Diaper rash is one of the most common problems you’ll have to deal with during the first few years of your child’s life. Fortunately, diaper rash treatments (and prevention) are easy to come by.
Diaper rash occurs when your baby’s skin becomes irritated. Most commonly, that happens due to excessive moisture (more on that below), but it can also be the result of certain lotions, wipes, or diapers, says Bridget Boyd, M.D., Medical Director of the Newborn Nursery at Loyola University Medical Center and Assistant Professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Usually, too-high moisture levels around your baby’s bum come from diapers that are left on too long, which prevent air exposure and leave his skin wet. With poopie diapers, it’s a combo of moisture plus potential rash-causing bacteria touching his skin. Ick.
Happily, protecting your baby’s skin isn’t complicated. Here’s the basic info every new parent should know about diaper rash treatment and prevention.
Change diapers often
It’s tough to be on top of them 24/7, but try to change wet diapers as soon as they happen (at least every 2 hours). If it’s a poopy diaper, change it right away: You’ll nix the combination of bacteria, moisture, and diaper chafing that most often produce a painful rash.
Pay attention to products
Diaper rash can also develop from a reaction to fragrances in products like diapers, wipes, or lotions. When possible, stick to natural, fragrance-free items, which are gentler on baby’s skin. And if a rash shows up after using a new product? Switch back to the old stuff for a few days before trying the new one again. If the rash comes back, you know the gear change was probably to blame.
Wash instead of wiping
Steer clear of baby wipes with alcohol or fragrances, which can irritate your baby’s skin. (Believe it or not, even wipes that are meant for sensitive skin can be problematic, since they can still contain the offending ingredients, Boyd says.) When you’re home, clean your baby’s bottom with squirt bottle filled with warm water, then dry off gently with a soft washcloth. Heading out for the day? Take a few cloth wipes in a Ziploc and moisten before using. We love the 100% unbleached cotton Flannel Baby Wipes from bumGenius ($12, Cottonbabies.com).
Let it all air out
When you’re home, make it a habit of letting your baby go au natural for a little while (we’re big fans of letting babies nap on a burpie or open cloth diaper). The air exposure will help keep his tush dry, which helps whether you’re trying to heal a rash faster or prevent one in the first place.
Give oatmeal baths
Oats have natural skin-protecting properties that help soothe skin pain and redness while protecting it from rashes down the road. A once- or twice-daily oatmeal bath will do the trick—we love this homemade oatmeal paste recipe from the Healthy Baby Beans blog.
Use a thick barrier cream
Rash or not, when it’s time to change your baby’s diaper, don’t forget the diaper cream—and the thicker the consistency, the better. It’ll act as a barrier against the moisture that usually causes rashes. When choosing a cream keep one thing in mind—the thicker the better.
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