My 3 1/2 month old son has developed a severe diaper rash. He seems like he's in pain and major discomfort. What can I do to alleviate the misery he feels and to make sure the rash doesn't come back? How did this happen in the first place?
The expert answers:
There are a number of causes for diaper rash, mainly the existence of excess moisture in the diaper area. In addition, chemical irritants, food allergies, bacteria from stool and urine, fungus and friction from diapers and clothing all can cause diaper rash.
The most common cause is leaving a diaper on for too long. If a diaper is left on too long, chemicals form in the wet or soiled diaper irritating the skin, making it vulnerable to infection. The rash usually appears as redness or bumps on skin surfaces. Prompt attention usually improves diaper rash in two to three days.
Diaper rash is a common and painful problem effecting millions of babies each year. Approximately 80 percent of the five million babies born this year will experience some form of diaper rash. A newborn's sensitive skin is a poor defense against wet, soiled diapers, so most babies will probably have a diaper rash at some point. The good news is that diaper rashes are rarely serious and respond readily to home treatment.
It is highly recommended to use a diaper rash cream that contains zinc oxide, which according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, helps to protect a baby's skin from diaper rash. The thickness and adhesive quality of the cream work to make a barrier to the skin. The thicker products tend to work more effectively. It's important to treat diaper rash, because damaged skin is more easily irritated by contact with urine and stool and may cause your baby pain and discomfort. Healing time is faster and more reliable, providing relief for a longer period of time.
Diaper cream may be applied as often as every diaper change as well as after bathing. We recommend using it as a preventative to protect your baby from future rashes.
It's easy to recognize a diaper rash
Inflamed red areas appear on the baby's skin in the region usually covered by a diaper -- the lower abdomen, genitals, buttocks and the folds of the thighs. The rash can be either dry or moist and sometimes look pimply. Left untreated, diaper rashes can become infected by a fungus or bacteria and will require the attention of a physician.
You should suspect yeast infection if tiny red spots develop and eventually meld into a solid red inflamed area. Be on the alert for yeast infections if the baby is taking antibiotics, which can promote the growth of yeast. A bacterial infection can cause pus-filled pimples or oozing yellow patches and may be accompanied by a fever.
A physician should be contacted if: