For parents, every baby comes with a steep learning curve. There’s a lot you have to educate yourself on, but one of the most important lessons is to interpret your baby’s crying. There’s the “I’m hungry” screech, the “I’m tired” bawling, and of course the “I’m just kind of bored” meltdown.
Which is what makes diaper rash such a pain in the butt. Literally, for the baby, but figuratively for the parents. You’re counting on your baby to tell you when it’s hungry or tired, but with diaper rash they’ll just scream all the time.
Because of this, it’s important to treat fresh outbreaks as soon as they happen, and work to prevent them. But first you have to understand the main causes, most of which are easily preventable. It just takes a little attention to your baby’s food, medications and environment.
- FOOD - As you begin to work solid foods into their diet, start with one new thing at a time and give it a few days. New foods can affect how often they poop and can even alter their poop’s acidity. Either one can cause huge diaper rash flareups.
- MEDICINE - It’s not uncommon for a baby to go on a round of antibiotics for an ear infection or other problem, but those drugs not only kill bad bacteria, they can kill good bacteria. And if they shut down the ones that usually keep yeast growth in check, a yeast infection can rapidly turn into diaper rash.
For breastfeeding mothers, please note even changes in your own diet and medications can cause flare-ups.
- NEW PRODUCTS - If your baby is suddenly getting constant diaper rash, check to see if you’ve recently started using a new brand of wipes, diapers, laundry detergent, lotions powders or oils. Any one of these can react with your baby’s body chemistry to create some serious “afterburn.”
- CLOTHING - Chafing from tightfitting diapers or clothing can also aggravate diaper rash, so give everything a good stretch test. At this point in their development, your baby is growing like a weed so last week’s onesie might already be too tight.
- WET DIAPERS – Letting your baby sit in a wet diaper too long is a huge cause for diaper rash. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to let them have a little time out of the diaper every day to let the whole area breathe a little. When you change the diaper, rinse off their bottom with warm water and gently clean with a mild soap if necessary, then either pat it dry or let it air dry.
But even with constant vigilance and careful diaper changing, diaper rash can happen. Maybe your baby has sensitive skin or maybe they just had too much stroller time, once the diaper rash is there it doesn’t matter what caused it. You have to treat it, and fast. There are several options:
- PETROLEUM JELLY - Some parents swear by it, and it will certainly be effective in creating a seal around the diaper rash so it can heal. But it’s messy, as it doesn’t get absorbed into the skin like creams.
- ZINC-BASED CREAMS - They not only soothe your baby’s burning bottom, they also form a protective barrier around the rash to avoid further irritation as well as possible infection. Creams like Triple Paste, A+D, Balmex and Desitin would fall into this category. The gold standard, however, would be Boudreaux's Butt Paste. Free of any dyes, preservatives, parabens and talc, this is the diaper rash treatment you’ve most likely heard about from other parents and pediatricians. And there’s a reason – it just plain works.
- POWDERS – Baby powder and corn starch have both been standbys for diaper rash going back generations, but new studies indicate either one could cause breathing problems down the road for your baby. If you use it, keep it away from their face. Apply it to your hands, and then keep it contained to the diaper area.
Preventative measures and home treatment will clear up just about any case of diaper rash, but if it persists for more than three days or appears to worsen, contact your pediatrician.