It has been said that if there were no diapers, there would be no diaper rashes. Even with meticulous care, all infants will occasionally develop an irritated bottom. Preventing the rash is a parent’s goal, but if an infant does get one, home treatment will usually keep the irritation from turning into more than just a nuisance.
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Diaper rashes are actually caused by a combination of factors. First and foremost, the area under a diaper is warm, moist, and poorly ventilated, conditions ideal for the development of a rash. Second, the infant’s outermost layer of skin is soft and thin, making it highly susceptible to injury from bacteria, fungi, and the chemicals found in urine and stool. Third, the sequence of wetting and drying makes the skin more susceptible to the constant rubbing of a diaper against the skin. Add other conditions, such as skin or food allergy, diarrhea, and the use of medications (antibiotics, for example) it’s a wonder that a baby’s bottom is not always irritated.
Remember, diapers are used to keep urine and stool off the infant’s clothes and environment. Since all babies must wear diapers, the best any parent or caregiver can do is to try to prevent a rash from developing. Parents usually discover through trial and error just which diapering routines or products work best for their infant.
Here are some suggestions that will help:
· Never leave a baby alone on the changing table or any surface above the floor. Even a newborn can make a sudden turn and fall. Keep all supplies together in one place so the infant is always attended.
· Make sure the baby is always clean and dry. Promptly change the infant whenever the diaper is wet or soiled and gently clean the area with a soft washcloth. Do not over clean as scrubbing only damages the skin. Avoid harsh soaps – water alone is probably all that is needed. Gently pat the diaper area with a soft towel and leave the area exposed to air for a few minutes before putting on a new diaper. When the skin is completely dry, apply a light diaper cream containing zinc oxide. Although these white creams are not totally necessary, they do create a barrier so that stool and urine will not irritate the skin.
Choose diapers that have sufficient absorbency to keep the baby dry longer. Some of the new disposable diapers have chemicals that draw moisture away from the skin. These diapers absorb tremendous amounts of fluids – I recently took my 17-month old granddaughter swimming and her diaper weighed more than her when we got out of the pool! Change brands if a particular disposable diapers irritates the child.
Keep diapers and outer clothing fitting loose. The tighter the diaper and clothes, the less air gets to the baby’s skin.
Talcum powders should not be used. If babies inhale the powder, it can irritate the lungs and cause pneumonia. Cornstarch based powders may be less dangerous, but are not necessary since the new disposable diapers have a smooth inner lining.
Additional measures parents can take once a rash appears include:
Remove the diapers whenever possible. Fresh air is a great healer and without urine and stool touching the skin, the rash might clear up on its own. To keep any mess to a minimum, place the child diaperless on a surface that is easily washed or lay the baby down on soft towels with a waterproof sheet underneath. When the weather is nice, a few minutesâ€™ exposure to sunshine may be helpful.
Disposable diapers can be altered to breathe easier by snipping the elastic bands around the legs in several places. Tearing holes in the plastic liner of the disposable diaper will also help allow more air in.
The diapers should be changed even more frequently than before. Until the rash is better, wake the baby up at least once during the night to change a wet diaper.
Instead of wiping the baby’s skin with a washcloth, use a running stream of plain water from the sink or a squeeze bottle. A cotton ball dipped in baby oil will gently remove any remaining diaper cream or stool from the irritated skin. Pat the area thoroughly dry before applying a new layer of diaper cream so that the medication does not seal in any moisture.
Avoid baby wipes since they contain alcohol, perfumes, and other chemicals that will irritate already inflamed skin. Sometimes the less applied to the baby’s skin the better off the infant will be!
Sometimes a diaper rash is caused by a yeast infection. This type of irritation is usually bright red, covers a large area, and is surrounded by red dots. Yeast diaper rashes are frequently seen following bouts of diarrhea or after a child has been on antibiotics. An over-the-counter antiyeast medication, such as MonostatR may be helpful, or see the child’s pediatrician for a prescription cream.
Most diaper rashes can be treated at home and usually clear up in three to five days. However, if the baby’s bottom becomes raw, bleeds, develops blisters or open sores, spreads beyond the diaper area, or causes enough discomfort to interfere with sleep, call the child’s physician for additional advice and help.
While diaper rashes are very common, parents still get upset and when their childâ€™s bottom becomes red and irritated. Neighbors and relatives occasionally make parents feel guilty by reporting that their children never had a diaper rash! Parents should not blame themselves or their baby sitter when their infant develops a diaper rash. It is definitely not a reflection of poor hygiene or lack of care. True, diaper rashes are unsightly and worry parents, but given an infantâ€™s tender skin,they are almost unavoidable!
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