Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Diaper Rash
Guidelines for Parents

Diaper rash affects most babies, but it is usually not serious. This brochure explains the causes of diaper rash, steps you can take to help prevent it, and how to treat it if it develops.

What is diaper rash?
Diaper rash can be any rash that develops inside the diaper area. In mild cases, the skin might be red. In more severe cases, there may be painful open sores. You will usually see a rash around the abdomen, genitalia, and inside the skin folds of the thighs and buttocks. Mild cases clear up within 3 to 4 days without any treatment. If a rash persists or develops again after treatment, consult your pediatrician.

What causes diaper rash?
Over the years diaper rash has been blamed on various causes, such as teething, diet, and ammonia in the urine.
However, medical experts now believe it is caused by any of the following:

When skin stays wet for too long, the layers that protect it start to break down. When wet skin is rubbed, it also damages more easily. Moisture from a soiled diaper can harm your baby’s skin and make it more prone to chafing. When this happens, a diaper rash may develop. Further rubbing between the moist folds of the skin only makes the rash worse. This is why diaper rash often forms in the skin folds of the groin and upper thighs.

More than half of babies between 4 months and 15 months of age develop diaper rash at least once in a 2- month period. Diaper rash occurs more often in the following instances:

Infants taking antibiotics are more likely to get diaper rashes caused by yeast infections. Yeast infects the weakened skin and causes a bright red rash with red spots at its edges. You can treat this with over-the-counter antifungal medications. If you see these symptoms, you may wish to consult with your pediatrician.

What can I do to prevent diaper rash?
To help prevent diaper rash from developing, you should:

What can I do if my baby gets diaper rash?
If diaper rash develops despite your best efforts to prevent it, try the following:
- Has blisters or pus-filled sores
- Does not go away within 48 to 72 hours
- Gets worse

Which type of diaper should I use?
There are many different brands of diapers. Diapers are made of cloth or disposable materials. After they get soiled, you can wash cloth diapers and use them again and you throw away disposable diapers.

Research suggests that diaper rash is less common with the use of disposable diapers. In child care settings, children who wear super-absorbent disposable diapers tend to have lower rates of diaper rash. Regardless of which type of diaper you use, diaper rash occurs less often and is less severe when you change diapers often.
If you use a cloth diaper, you can use a stay-dry liner inside it to keep your baby drier.
If you choose not to wash cloth diapers yourself, you can have a diaper service clean them. If you do your own washing, you will need to presoak heavily soiled diapers. Keep and wash soiled diapers separate from other clothes. Use hot water and double-rinse each wash. Do not use fabric softeners or antistatic products on the diapers because they may cause rashes in young, sensitive skin. Whether you use cloth diapers, disposables, or both, always change diapers as needed to keep your baby clean, dry, and healthy.

Remember — never leave your baby alone on the changing table or on any other surface above the floor. Even a newborn can make a sudden turn and fall to the floor.

Diaper rash is usually not serious, but it can cause your child discomfort. Follow the steps in this brochure to help prevent and treat diaper rash. Discuss any questions you have about these steps with your pediatrician.