Causes of Diaper Rash and When to Worry

What’s causing my baby’s diaper rash? Should I be worried?

As parents, our natural instincts tell us to keep our babies healthy, clean, and dry. We cut the labels out of their clothing to prevent chafing of delicate skin, we wash brand new items before the baby’s first wear in case of irritating chemicals, and we spend hours researching the absolute ideal products to ensure our little ones get the very best.

So, when we see that their little bottoms are red and painful, it hits us right where it hurts.

The main causes of diaper rash are exposure to stool or urine, chafing or irritation from the diaper materials, an infection, or sensitivity to new foods. Teething can also cause a red, sore bottom, which will clear up by magic when those teeth finally breakthrough.

When introducing new foods into your baby’s diet you should stick to one food at a time. Acidic foods like citrus or tomato-based sauces are particularly liable to cause a red, sore rash and should be introduced with caution. In some cases, particularly sensitive breastfed babies can react badly to foods in the mom’s diet.

When your baby’s skin is irritated or even broken through irritation or allergy, infection is an unfortunately common complication. Infection should always be taken seriously and should be treated according to your doctor’s advice. Watch out for the signs of infection below.

Irritation of your baby’s soft skin by poop, pee or the materials of the diaper is a common problem – not all diapers are created equal. Fortunately, it’s one that can be easily rectified. A little research will turn up a diaper with a highly absorbent core to hold waste away from the baby’s delicate skin and with soft cotton cuffs and surfaces to prevent chafing. You’ll notice a difference immediately.

To treat minor diaper rash a barrier cream is best, preferably one that contains zinc for faster healing. Your baby’s tushie should be allowed as much air time without a diaper as possible – there will likely be accidents, but your baby’s delicate skin will thank you.

Most cases of diaper rash will heal quickly so long as you treat them properly. You should see your doctor however if you notice any of the following:

  • The rash doesn’t heal on its own after 2-3 days of treatment. This may be a sign of an underlying infection.
  • The rash contains blisters, pus, or white spots at its edges. This is an indication that the rash has developed a bacterial or fungal infection
  • Your baby develops a fever. Again, this suggests that the skin has developed an infection.
  • The rash is very painful, warm to the touch, or swollen. These are signs of an infection deep under the skin.
  • The rash begins to spread onto the baby’s belly or legs. Again, this is an indication that the skin has become infected.
  • The rash is patchy, rough, and very red, and it appears in more than one place. It’s possible that the rash is a skin condition called eczema.

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