Typical Diaper Area Problems For Babies And Toddlers

Learn the most common causes of diaper rash and how to treat and prevent them.

New parents may find themselves dazzled by the array of diaper rash treatments the first time their new baby has a red bottom. However, "diaper rash" is just one broad term that covers a wide variety of skin problems - so it is important to buy the right diaper rash treatment for your baby's specific type of rash. Below are just a few of the most common diaper rashes and how to treat them.

The friction rash is the most common type of diaper rash, and occurs where the diaper rubs the baby's delicate skin too much - most commonly under the elastic on the legs. To treat this sort of rash, make sure to change the diaper frequently and let the area air out. If friction rash is still a problem, the diapers may be the wrong size - try buying the next size up.

The irritant rash is also very common, and is seen mainly on the areas of the baby's skin that are exposed to the contents of the diaper, such as the buttocks, rather than inside the creases. This type of rash is often caused by irritants in the baby's urine and stool; other possible irritants include soap that is too harsh or baby wipes with chemicals that the baby may be allergic to. The best way to treat this type of rash is to clean the diaper area frequently with a mild soap (such as Phisoderm baby cleanser), dry the area thoroughly, and apply a zinc oxide-based diaper cream such as Desitin.

Babies are also very prone to yeast infections. These rashes are characterized by raised red bumps on the genitals and other diaper areas. Often, a yeast infection will follow a round of antibiotics. As the antibiotics kill off harmful bacteria in the baby's system, they unfortunately also kill off helpful bacteria that keep Candida at bay, and a yeast infection can result.

Yeast infections do not respond to zinc oxide diaper creams or baby powder, and must be treated with an anti-fungal cream or powder such as Nystatin (available with a prescription) or the over-the-counter cream Lotrimin AF. As mentioned above, yeast infections very often follow treatment with antibiotics - so if your pediatrician prescribes antibiotics, it may be a good idea to ask for a prescription for Nystatin powder or cream at the same time.

If frequent yeast infections are a problem for your baby, your pediatrician may also recommend using talcum powder rather than cornstarch powder, which might "feed" the yeast. However, when using talcum powder, be careful not to let too much powder into the air where the baby can inhale it; it can coat the lungs and cause breathing problems.

Intertrigo is a moist heat rash that occurs in skin folds and creases. Let the area air out periodically; if airing out doesn't help, your baby's doctor may prescribe a topical antifungal or antibiotic cream (depending on the type of infection).

Cracked skin can sometimes occur when a diaper rash of any type becomes severe, and can be extremely uncomfortable or painful for the baby. See your pediatrician as soon as possible. A severe rash with cracked skin will require very frequent diaper changes, periods of airing out the diaper area, and possibly a topical antibiotic.

With any diaper rash, prevention is always the best treatment. Change diapers frequently and use a "barrier" cream, such as Desitin, A&D ointment, or Aquaphor, to keep moisture and irritants off of baby's skin. Taking proper care of your baby's sensitive diaper area is vital for warding off itchy or painful diaper rashes (and preventing the crying jags that come with them!), so ask your doctor for skin care advice if your baby has a problem with a recurring diaper rash.

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