Dealing with diaper rash once in awhile is par for the course when caring for your baby or toddler. From chafing and skin sensitivity to yeast and bacteria, there are a number of reasons that a child can develop diaper rash. You may not be able to prevent diaper rash entirely, but consider these tips to limit the occurrence.
1. Reduce Sugar Intake
If your baby or toddler drinks fruit juice, he or she is taking in sugar. The sugar that is contained in fruit may be a natural sugar, but it is still sugar, and yeast thrives on sugar. Take note if your child develops diaper rash after consuming the following sweet edibles:
- Fruit juices, even those that claim to contain no added sugar
- Dried fruits, such as raisins and apricots
- Strawberries, peaches, pineapple and plums
Diaper rash can result from eating a number of other foods as well if your child has a food allergy. Such foods trigger an allergic response of diarrhea, which causes diaper rash.
2. Change Diapers Frequently
It goes without saying, but it cannot be reiterated enough. Change your child's diaper as soon as it becomes soiled. While parents make genuine efforts to be diligent about this, even the most doting parent can be caught off guard. You may need to run a quick errand to the store, and since you expect the trip to be quick, it can be tempting to grab the kid and go with minimal supplies in tow. What happens if you are caught in a traffic jam on the way to the store or if you get stuck on an agonizingly slow checkout line? Be prepared to change a diaper at any time and in any place. It can also be frustrating to change a diaper, only to have the fresh diaper soiled just as you carry your baby away from the changing table. Don't put off repeating the task you just completed. Any direct contact between your child's urine or feces and his or her skin can cause diaper rash.
3. Avoid Using Powders
There was a time when applying powder to a baby's behind was part of the diapering process because powder was thought to absorb moisture. There are four reasons to skip the powder, and they are as follows:
- Many powders contain ingredients, such as fragrances, that can be irritating to babies with sensitive skin.
- Talc, the mineral that talcum powder is made from, is a known carcinogen.
- Once the powder absorbs urine, it clumps into tiny grains that can be irritating to skin.
- If your child ends up inhaling any of the powder during application, it can irritate his or her lungs.
Other baby care products, including wipes and diapers, contain ingredients that may not be the best choice for your baby when it comes to avoiding diaper rash.
4. Avoid Commercial Baby Wipes
Like powder, many commercial baby wipes contain alcohol, fragrances and other chemical ingredients that can be irritating to your baby's sensitive skin, and such irritation can lead to diaper rash. You can make your own natural baby wipes from dry wipes or paper towels by spritzing them with water that contains a few drops of tea tree oil and organic coconut oil or calendula oil. Once you finish gently cleaning your baby, allow the skin to dry completely before dressing him or her in a clean diaper.
5. Choose a Diaper Won't Irritate
New parents often weigh the pros and cons of commercial and cloth diapers. The debate arose when the environmental impact of commercial diapers came to light. Commercial diapers are specifically designed to hold most of the moisture in an absorbent core behind a layer that helps to keep your baby dry, reducing the incidence of diaper rash caused by skin contact with urine. However, many commercial diapers also contain chemicals that can irritate your baby if she has particularly sensitive skin, and such irritation can cause diaper rash. Cloth diapers must be changed much more diligently since there is no protective layer within them. While they may not contain chemicals, you must launder them, and some laundry detergents can also cause skin irritation. Whichever option you choose, your selection should be the one that does not cause irritation. Use bleach when laundering cloth diapers, double rinse them to remove all traces of detergent, and avoid using perfumed dryer sheets.
6. Give Your Baby's Bottom Air Time
A closed diaper against your baby's skin creates a dark and moist environment, which is prime real estate for microbes to dwell and breed. By allowing your child to spend some playtime each day without a diaper, his or her derriere will be exposed to light and drying air. Such playtime should be carried out in a room with a floor that is easy to clean or outdoors on a sunny day. When it's time to cover up again, avoid fitting the diaper too tightly on your baby. Tight diapers prevent airflow, and they also cause irritation from chaffing.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, diaper rash can turn into a skin infection. Signs of a skin infection include the following:
- Rash that does not improve or worsens
- Blistering skin
- Drainage of pus from the rash
- Fussy or irritable behavior
If your baby develops diaper rash, contact your pediatrician, like Ada Pediatrics PA. Determining the specific cause of your baby's diaper rash will enable the doctor to recommend the most effective treatment to soothe your little one's discomfort before the rash becomes an infection.