What is Diaper Rash or Nappy Rash?
Diaper rash is a generic term applied to skin irritation
that develops in the diaper-covered area that is caused by
various disorders and irritants. It causes the baby's skin
to become sore, red, scaly, and tender. In bad cases, the
rash can cause pimples, blisters and sores on the baby's buttocks,
thighs or genital area. If the rash gets infected, it may
become bright red and the skin may get swollen. Small red
patches or spots may also spread beyond the main part of the
rash, even out of the diaper-covered area.
Common synonyms are including diaper dermatitis (skin inflammation),
napkin dermatitis and ammonia dermatitis. Amongst all published
causes of diaper rash, contact irritation seems to be the
most significant factor. Diaper rash could develop as early
as in the first week of a new born baby. As surveyed, the
highest risk is recorded between the range of 9 and 12 months
old. There are almost 40% of children in this age range will
be attacked by diaper rash.
In general, there are few causes that contributed to diaper
1) Irritant or Contact Dermatitis could show various severities
vary from mild redness (similar to sunburn) to skin erosion.
To differentiate contact dermatitis from other causes, it
seldom involves the skin fold areas which are not in immediate
contact with urine. It can be caused by rubbing of diapers
against the skin and tight fitting of diapers onto the baby's
2) Bacterial infection is resulted from a disruption of skin
integrity and overwhelmed skin defence mechanisms within the
diaper-covered region. Visually, bacterial infections could
be a small blisters (1-2mm) and pustules that covering the
baby's buttock, lower abdomen, anus, umbilical cord, thighs
as well as other parts of the body. When the baby's urine
mixes with bacteria from feces, it breaks down and forms ammonia
which can be very harsh.
3) Yeast or Fungal infection is characterized by bright red
zone with slightly raised small dots extending beyond the
main rashes. It is usually tender, painful and appears in
the folds of the baby's genitals, legs and creases. Conversely
to contact dermatitis, they are commonly found in the skin
folds creases, around the baby's anal and can spread to the
front and back of body.
4) Allergic reactions due to allergens like fragrances and
materials of the diaper (dyes, super absorbent gels) and laundry
chemicals e.g. detergent, bleach and softener. These regions
often have well-defined zones of redness with superficial
vesicles and erosions on the legs and in the groin area.
5) Metabolic and Nutritional Deficiency could happen during
the introduction of new food or solid food to the baby. New
foods can change the composition of the baby's feces and increase
the bowel movement at the same time. This could lead to a
diaper rash, and the rashes get worsen with happening of diarrhea.
If baby is breast-fed, their delicate skin could even be reacting
to those foods mothers are eating.
6) Immunodeficiency and Malignancies is likely to be one
of the causes of diaper rash nowadays. Sometimes, diaper rash
can develop on a baby who is taking antibiotics, or the baby
is breast-fed by the mother who is on antibiotics. Antibiotics
reduce the number of healthy bacteria that combating with
yeast, as well as the harmful bacteria that meant to be destroyed.
Despite other intrinsic factors, there are few handy tips
which can be used to prevent diaper rash:
1) Change your baby's diaper diligently as soon as it is
wet and soiled. Newborn babies urinate and pass loose stools
very often and there is always trace amount of moisture left
on the baby's skin. You should always keep the baby's skin
as dry, clean and cool as possible, in order to get rid of
feces and urine in irritating the baby's skin.
2) Put your baby on an open cloth diaper during nap time.
As baby often urinates right after falling asleep, the diaper
should be checked shortly after the baby falls asleep and
replace instantly if it is wet. You may even let your baby
to sleep with a bare butt (with plastic sheet placed on top
of bed sheet) for a speedy recovery.
3) Soak the baby's bottom with running water occasionally
in between of diaper changes; or by squirting with a water
bottle. If possible, only use warm water with (or without)
4) Allow the baby's skin to dry completely before covering
up with a clean diaper. Avoid using plastic pant or diaper
with plastic edge. Diapers with anti-leak plastic prevents
air circulation, thus conduces a warm and moist environment
where fungi can thrive.
5) Pat the wet bottom gently with a soft cloth or towel,
rather than scrubbing that can lead to irritation on sensitive
6) Put on the diaper loosely to prevent chafing, or use a
bigger-sized diaper will be leaving more rooms for better
air circulation. Make sure the diaper or nappy fits firmly,
instead of tightly.
7) Avoid using scented wipes and soaps, which may contain
alcohol, perfume or fragrance that make skin irritation worse.
If you are using disposable diapers, you must buy ones that
8) Use cream which contains zinc oxide ointment or petroleum
jelly to protect your baby's skin from moisture. Never use
creams that contain boric acid, camphor, phenol, methyl salicylate
or benzoin tincture.
9) Do not use talcum powder or cornstarch in healing diaper
rash. Talcum powder can be inhaled into the baby's lung, whereas
cornstarch could worsen a yeast-infected diaper rash.
10) Boil washable diapers for approximately 10-15 minutes
after thorough cleaning to kill germs and remove chemicals
like soap that could potentially irritate the baby's skin.
11) Food allergies may cause diaper rash. When you introduce
new solid foods, try to do so one at a time so that a particular
allergy can be identified easily.
With some diligence and perseverance in following those best
practises, diaper rash should be healed within 3 to 4 days
without seeking an out-patient consultation.
Please consult your family pediatrician if the rash turns
to be complicated with yellow patches or open sores. The pediatrician
may either prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic for your
baby, or antifungal drug for yeast infection. You should also
consult the medical experts if your baby develops a fever,
diarrhea or any kind of discomfort after several days of home
By Ding - www.FamilyDiaperBag.com
Ding is the founder of www.FamilyDiaperBag.com,
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