Caring for a newborn is an experience like no ever. But it can also be quite overwhelming and stressful, especially if you see your little one suffering from a diaper rash.
I can’t imagine the stress you might be feeling, seeing your baby wailing in helplessness and pain from a nappy rash.
My baby never had a diaper rash but I was certainly feeling the anxiety and distress while researching for this article and looking at different types of baby diaper rashes!
But first deep breath.
Aaaand you got this!
In this article, you’ll get to know the types of diaper rashes and the best treatments for them.
Then we’ll take a look at the usual culprits that caused your baby’s nappy rash.
And finally, you’ll see here my my 2 TOP TIPS on to prevent diaper rashes from happening again.
I hope you’ll love the products we recommend! Just a quick note: if you click on a product link below and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.
Diaper Rash: Common Symptoms
- Redness and inflamed skin in the genitals, buttocks, and thighs
- Tender and itchy skin in the diaper area
- Sores and mild rashes
- Fussiness and crying during diaper changes
Primary Causes of Nappy Rash
- Infrequent changing of diapers
Leaving wet or soiled diapers for too long and inconsistent diaper changes can guarantee a diaper rash.
The chemicals in the urine and feces can irritate your baby’s skin and can even cause yeast infections.
Babies that frequently soil themselves or experience diarrhea are more prone to diaper rash.
- Chafing or rubbing
The skin’s protective barrier can weaken due to friction.
The diaper area is particularly vulnerable since moist skin is more prone to friction than dry skin.
The skin creases and folds in the diaper area and the constant wiping and cleaning of it can clear the way for more irritating substances to penetrate your baby’s sensitive skin.
- Using a new product
A new brand of baby wipes, diapers, detergent, bleach, or fabric softener used to wash cloth diapers can also cause a reaction on your baby’s skin.
Lotions, powders, and oils ingredients could make the diaper rash worse.
- Introducing new foods
Your breastmilk and baby led weaning can introduce new food to your little one, which can change the content of their stool, which can lead to a nappy rash.
- Having sensitive skin
Newborns with skin conditions such as eczema or seborrheic dermatitis are more likely to experience diaper rash.
- Wearing diapers
It may sound weird but the wearing of diapers itself for prolonged periods can cause a baby diaper rash.
The diaper area is warmer and more moist, especially in the skin creases – a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast.
This in turn makes the area more prone to irritation, redness, and swelling.
Babies with mothers who are taking antibiotics might have likely developed an increased risk of diaper rash, as antibiotics can increase the risk of diarrhea, which can lead to nappy rashes.
Common Diaper Rash Treatments
Here are some common ways on how to treat diaper rashes:
- Keep the area clean always
The best treatment and prevention of diaper rashes is keeping the diaper area as clean and dry as possible.
So remember to wipe it gently or when washing, use clear water with no soap.
- Wash with water
There’s nothing wrong with most baby wipes but most, if not all, have some chemicals and irritating ingredients that can make your baby’s diaper rash worse.
If you suspect that the baby wipes are causing your baby’s skin to become irritated, then just use a soft washcloth or flat cotton pad.
Dip them in water to gently wipe and clean your baby’s diaper area.
Or you can carry your baby to the tub and wash the irrigated area with just your hand.
- Be gentle
Don’t rub or worse, scrub your baby clean, especially the diaper area.
You want to reduce the friction on your baby’s diaper area so after washing or bathing your newborn, just pat gently the diaper area using a soft washcloth or towel.
- Dry area out completely
Pat the diaper area gently with a soft towel.
Then give your baby some diaper free time for at least 30 minutes or more, to give their skin a chance to breathe.
Do this before applying the diaper rash cream or ointment.
- Change diaper frequently
Do diaper changes and diaper-free sessions every 2 hours, to make sure that there’s no pee or stool on your baby that can cause a nappy rash.
- Use a diaper rash cream
Over-the-counter diaper rash creams and ointments containing zinc oxide or petroleum help to soothe skin and protect it from moisture.
They should be smeared on thickly (like icing on a cake) at each diaper change, especially if your baby is suffering from a diaper rash.
That can usually do the trick, as long as you wipe thoroughly and air out your baby’s diaper area properly.
- Switch diapers
If your baby is using cloth diapers, it might be better to switch to a disposable one as it can help your baby’s skin stay as dry as possible.
If your baby is using disposable diapers, try to see if it’s time for them to size up, as ill-fitting diapers can also contribute to getting irritated and having a diaper rash.
Or see if a cloth diaper is better for them to use, rather than a disposable diaper.
- Steroid or antifungal cream
For mild to severe diaper rashes, your doctor might recommend using a hydrocortisone (steroid) rash cream or an antifungal rash cream, especially if your baby has an extreme fungal infection.
Types of Baby Diaper Rashes
Below are the most common types of nappy rashes, to help you identify what kind of diaper rash your baby has.
This is the most common type of baby diaper rash.
Usually found at the genitals, buttocks, thighs, and even the stomach, this might look red and shiny and might even feel warm to the touch.
Prolonged contact with stool and/or urine
Diaper Rash Treatment:
Over-the-counter nappy rash creams with zinc oxide OR
If it’s particularly severe, your doctor might give a prescription cream to help treat it.
This is a type of yeast infection that can show up in patches in the folds and creases of your baby’s thighs and even outside the diaper area.
You’ll see some redness and some red dots outside the main area.
Baby girls might have a vaginal discharge that’s yellow or white in color plus itching.
While baby boys might have scaling and redness on their penis.
Your baby might also have oral thrush, a yeast infection in the mouth.
When baby is taking antibiotics or when breastfeeding moms pass their yeast infection to their baby, after taking medications
Diaper Rash Treatments:
Over-the-counter antifungal creams OR
Prescribed antifungal ointment or cream for yeast infections
Sometimes oral antifungal medicine is necessary
This will be noticeably red and shiny and can practically show on any body part where a product is applied or used (wipes, diapers, lotion, etc.).
Symptoms can show on the genital, butt, creases, thighs, and abdomen.
Allergic reaction to a diaper, baby wipes, lotion, or any new product
Diaper Rash Treatment:
Over-the-counter nappy rash creams with zinc oxide OR
If it’s particularly severe, your doctor will give a prescription medication.
Figure out what your baby is allergic to and eliminate that from their routine.
It might take several weeks for this to heal.
This can start as a skin infection that can quickly spread in your baby’s diaper area.
This can be quite severe and can even include symptoms such as high fever, pustules, lethargy, bleeding, and weeping.
Can be caused by either the Streptococcus or Staphylococcus aureus bacteria
This diaper rash might look bright red with the strep bacteria and can spread mostly in the buttocks but can also reach the genitals.
You might also see some blood in your baby’s stool.
With the staph, it can have some redness and scales, with pus-filled bumps that can have a yellow-brown fluid when ruptured.
Diaper Rash Treatments:
Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and penicillin.
No OTC diaper rash creams or ointments can treat it.
Infections like this can recur so always make a follow-up appointment with your doctor.
Other Baby Rashes
Other issues can also affect your baby’s skin and can cause a diaper rash or worse, such as the following:
This dry and itchy skin condition may look like a typical diaper rash, but it can eventually turn purple and crusty and can sometimes lead to the skin getting blisters or worse.
There’s no known cure yet for eczema, unfortunately, but the condition can be managed by bathing and moisturizing and using mild products which are fragrance/ dye-free.
Some pediatricians might also prescribe ointments or bleach baths.
Fortunately, for most kids, their eczema clears up by the time they start kindergarten. For some, it becomes more manageable and less severe when they get older. It can still flare up though in some cases.
This can be hard to distinguish from eczema and can also be mistaken as a diaper rash or even a yeast infection.
Psoriasis treatment is also not available yet but it can be manageable by using prescription ointments or using gentle products.
This is also sometimes referred to as “prickly heat” and can usually happen when the diaper area is hot, sweaty, and can’t “breathe”.
This then makes the diaper area red and itchy and can have some tiny bumps.
Slathering it with thick diaper creams and ointments can make it worse.
The best treatment for this is to clean the area and dry it out thoroughly and give it a good, long diaper-free time.
Diarrhea Diaper Rash
If your baby is prone to having diarrhea, that can also cause some diaper rashes as diarrhea stools can irritate the skin.
The best remedy for this, aside from the usual cleaning, airing, and using diaper creams and ointment, is to tackle your baby’s diarrhea first.
This is a common baby skin condition that can be quite tricky to distinguish from psoriasis.
It usually looks like a scaly pink patch in the diaper area and can also impact other parts of your baby’s body, like their face, neck, and scalp.
You may also see some oily or yellow patches in the affected diaper area and skin folds.
Your doctor might prescribe a topical medication for this type of skin condition.
The same bacteria that causes general bacterial dermatitis (group A Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus) can also cause impetigo.
This one looks more like an oozing sore than a diaper rash. This can also affect your little one’s mouth, nose, hands, and feet and it can be contagious.
Topical or oral antibiotics and a constant follow-up with your pediatrician is the best treatment for this skin condition.
How to Prevent Diaper Rash (With My TOP 2 TIPS!)
As the famous saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
It’s better to avoid having these diaper rashes in the first place so here are some diaper rash prevention tips:
- Always wash your hands
It might not seem a big deal, but it’s important to wash your hands before and even after changing your baby’s diaper.
It can help prevent the spread of bacteria further to your baby’s other body parts, to your other kids, or even to you and your spouse.
- Change diapers often
This is my one of my top 2 tips in preventing diaper rashes – changing your baby’s as often as possible.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, my little one never had even a slight diaper rash because of this tip I got from a former nurse who prepped me on caring for my baby.
Change your baby’s diaper every 2 to 3 hours, especially if they’re only a newborn and if they have bouts of diarrhea or are prone to diaper blowouts.
Always keep some extra diapers in your baby’s diaper bag, especially when going out.
Related Article: What To Do When You Run Out of Diapers [Outdoors or At Home!
- Use mild products
Use non-toxic baby wipes or if you prefer, just some warm water to clean your baby’s diaper area.
You can use some cotton balls, or a moist washcloth to further aid in cleaning your baby.
- Be gentle always
Don’t scrub or rub your baby’s skin dry. Pat it gently and just air it out.
And don’t also use talcum powder on your baby, or any other product apart from the doctor-recommended ones.
- Apply diaper cream or ointment regularly
Another top diaper rash prevention tip that I got is to always apply a nappy rash cream or ointment every diaper change, regardless if my baby has a diaper rash or not.
That has just become a part of our diaper changing routine before and I’m glad I did it!
The diaper cream helped protect my baby’s skin from moisture and irritants, avoiding diaper rash.
- Size or loosen up diapers
Make sure that the diapers are not too tight on your baby.
If needed, size up, especially if you notice that the diaper is leaving some marks on your baby’s tummy or thighs.
- Go for more diaper-free time
Let your baby go commando for 30 minutes or more, before making them wear diapers.
It’s the best way to let their diaper area breathe and a gentler way for it to dry.
You can do this as a form of tummy time and incorporate it into your baby’s daily routine.
Just remember to lay down some towels for possible diaper-related accidents.
- Use non-toxic diapers
Those with dyes or fragrances that are considered organic can be best suited for a newborn with very sensitive skin.
- Be careful with cloth diapers
Always read the manufacturer’s directions on how to properly wash them, as using other products to clean them can irritate your baby’s skin.
- Watch your baby’s diet
Breastfeeding might pass on some food to your baby that can flare up some allergic reactions and cause some diaper rashes.
Baby-led weaning can also cause that, so try to keep a lookout for what you and your baby are eating.
FAQ on Diaper Rash
What is a good home remedy for diaper rash?
A good home remedy for diaper rash is to keep it clean and dry always.
Wash the affected area with warm water, pat it gently to dry, give your baby some diaper-free time and finally apply some over-the-counter diaper rash cream or ointment.
Is diaper rash painful for babies?
Yes, diaper rash can be painful for babies, especially those conditions that can cause other severe symptoms such as lesions, fever, and more.
Final Thoughts on Diaper Rash Treatments
There are tons of DIY diaper rash home remedies out there but I’d highly recommend sticking to the ones that are proven to work and are prescribed by your doctor.
You never know what might further irritate your baby’s skin and can make their diaper rash situation worse.
Don’t also be too hard on yourself if your baby’s diaper rash has gone from being normal to worse.
Some just don’t respond well to the most common diaper rash treatments and usually, a quick visit to your pediatrician with prescribed medication can do the trick.