Dealing with Diaper Rash
If just looking at diaper rash makes you wince, imagine what it's like to have it. Unfortunately, your infant probably will, since it's one of the most common problems in newborns. This red, irritated rash usually occurs as a result of sensitive skin coming in contact with ammonia in urine and acids in stool.
Some cases of diaper rash are caused by yeast (fungus) infections. In these instances, the skin is typically bright red, especially in the creases, with bright red dots along the edges of the rash. It usually does not improve with common treatments for diaper rash, but a special cream prescribed by your pediatrician can treat the problem.
Most cases of diaper rash disappear with simple treatments such as frequent diaper changes. When your baby has a diaper rash, replace a diaper soon after it gets wet or soiled. Whenever possible, expose your baby's bottom to air for a few minutes between diaper changes.
Here are some other ways to manage diaper rash:
Avoid some wipes and soap
If your baby has diaper rash, don't use commercial baby wipes that contain alcohol. Soap is also too harsh. Instead, when you're changing a diaper, clean your baby's skin with cool water or alcohol-free wipes.
Protect the skin
After gently cleansing the area, apply a soothing layer of zinc oxide ointment or petroleum jelly.
Treat with cornstarch
Powders that contain talcum do nothing to protect against diaper rash and should not be used, because talcum can be harmful if it gets into a baby's developing lungs. Instead, try warming cornstarch in a baking pan at 150° F for 10 minutes. Let the cornstarch cool completely, and then apply it to your baby's bottom. It's as smooth as other powders, less expensive and more absorbent.
Use "gel" disposables
The gelling material helps pull wetness away from the skin, and the less wetness, the less chance of diaper rash. If you regularly use cloth diapers and your baby develops a diaper rash, switching to disposable diapers for a day or two may help clear up the rash.
Rinse with vinegar
If you're using cloth diapers, add one-quarter to one-half cup of plain white kitchen vinegar to each laundry load during the final rinse cycle. (Remember, you should rinse each load of cloth diapers at least twice.) This helps change the skin's pH level to make it more acidic, and, therefore, more resistant to diaper rash.
Last updated May 25, 2011