Diaper rash is common in babies and toddlers and can happen for many different reasons.
It will be difficult to avoid any sort of rash completely, but there are steps you can take to help reduce the likelihood or severity of a diaper rash.
The bottom line is to try to limit contact of urine and stool with the skin. Here are six other tips for preventing diaper rash.
- Change diapers frequently: Moisture from leaving a wet or soiled diaper on too long can cause skin to chafe. Urine in the diaper also can break down over time to produce irritating chemicals. In addition, the digestive enzymes that stool contains can start to wear away at skin.
- Clean the skin gently during changes: For wipes, choose a product that is free of alcohol and fragrance. You can also cleanse the skin with water and a non-soap/gentle cleanser, which may be less painful than wiping if the skin is irritated or has open sores. Use a squirt or spray bottle of water for severe rashes, if possible, to rinse without rubbing. Pat gently and allow skin to air-dry.
- Coat the skin with a thick layer of barrier paste: The brand is less important than the ingredients. Zinc oxide and petrolatum are both good choices, and fragrance-free products are best. Think of diaper paste as a shield that sits between the skin and the contents of the diaper. If the paste isn't soiled, no need to rub it off during changes; simply add more paste on top. In general, there is no such thing as too much diaper paste. Apply a thick layer, like icing on a cupcake.
- Choose a highly absorbent diaper: The more absorbent the diaper, the better job it does of keeping the skin dry. Although there is no current evidence showing which type of diaper does the best job of preventing diaper rash, cloth diapers typically are less absorbent than most disposable brands. If you use cloth diapers, you may want to consider using disposable diapers until the rash heals.
- Leave some breathing room: Make sure the diaper isn't too tight, especially overnight. A diaper that is loose will be less likely to rub against the skin.
- Keep the area clean: If the diaper area is irritated, a daily bath will help remove debris, irritants and possible bacteria. Don't forget to apply a thick layer of barrier paste in the diaper area after bathing.