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How to Combat Diaper Rash

When babies are born their skin is soft, smooth and perfect. Then it happens- diaper rash. As a parent, you may be asking yourself “What did I do wrong?” The simple answer is – nothing. Diaper rash is a normal part of infancy. Here are some tips on soothing diaper rash and how to prevent it in the future.

What causes diaper rash?
Diaper rashes occur when urine and bowel movements irritate your baby’s skin. The skin can become red, sore or scaly.

How do I treat diaper rash?
In order to treat diaper rash, repeat the following steps several times per day:

  1. Remove your baby’s diaper
  2. Clean your baby’s bottom with mild soap and water. Be sure to clean thoroughly getting into all of baby’s skin folds.  Rinse the skin and pat dry with a towel.
  3. Place your baby on their stomach or back, depending on the location of the rash, and put a folded diaper underneath.
  4. Let your baby play with their diaper off. Fresh air is key to helping dry and heal your baby’s rash.
  5. Use an over-the-counter ointment such as Desitin® or Balmex® to help heal the rash. Do not use baby powder.
  6. If the rash does not improve in 3 days, call your baby’s pediatrician.

How do I prevent diaper rash?
Unfortunately there is no way to completely prevent diaper rash, however following these tips should ensure that it happens infrequently.

  • Change your baby’s diaper as soon as it is wet or soiled. You may even consider changing your baby once during the night.
  • Gently wash and dry your baby’s bottom every time you change their diaper. If using diaper wipes, consider using a brand that specifies it is for sensitive skin.
  • Use barrier ointments such as Aquaphor®, petroleum jelly,  Desitin® or Balmex® regularly to help prevent skin irritation.
  • At least once per day, lay your baby on a diaper or towel leaving their bottom exposed to air.
  • Avoid using plastic diaper covers or disposable diapers with plastic edges. These can retain moisture and irritate baby’s skin.

For more information on treating and preventing diaper rashes, check out our Helping Hand.

Beth Martin, RN
Beth Martin RNC, MSN, graduated from Otterbein College with a BSN and completed my MSN in 2010. She has worked at Nationwide Children’s in the NICU since 1996. In 2004, a multidisciplinary group developed the Small Baby guidelines. The guidelines outline the care of <27 week preemies from the time of admission to discharge. We have presented Small Baby data and outcomes all over the United States. Our outcomes have improved; decreased length of stay, mortality and morbidity rates, and ventilator days. She is also a mom to two beautiful boys, ages 6 1/2 and 3, who keep her very busy! She love spending time with family, camping, swimming and watching kids movies!

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