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Signs and Treatments of Diaper Rash

How to Treat Different Diaper Rashes

Who knew the term "diaper rash" could mean so many different things? All rashes do have one thing in common: they make your baby miserable, and understandably so! Here's a look at the most common diaper rashes and the best ways to treat them, as shared by Circle of Moms members.

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1. Common Diaper Rash

The most common diaper rash is basic skin irritation. It comes from sitting too long in wet or soiled diapers, from the friction of diaper against skin, or when there is a change in acidity of bowel movements, especially in 6- to 18-month-old kids who are trying new foods. Stool and urine contain bacteria that often irritate skin, even when diapers are changed frequently.

Diaper rash is more common and happens more frequently when using disposable diapers, but cloth-diapered children are also known to get diaper rash on occasion. According to WebMD, almost every baby will experience this at least once during the diapering years. (WebMD also includes a picture of diaper rash to help you identify it.)

In addition to diaper friction, other physical changes in your baby's body can cause diaper rash. Circle of Moms member Amanda S. found that teething can be a trigger: "My youngest gets a rash every time he gets new teeth, about a week before the tooth breaks through."

There are many products made specifically to treat diaper rash caused by friction or soiled diapers. The important thing is to create a barrier. As Sherri E. says: "You might want to use a good balm to add a layer of protection between baby and diaper." Zinc oxide is the most popular ingredient in barrier creams.

Moms also recommend keeping the rash area as dry and clean as possible, even airing it out with a little diaper-free time each day. A few moms suggest about 30 minutes of "bare bum" time every day to thoroughly dry the area.

2. Yeast Infection

Fungal or yeast infections can also occur in a baby's diaper area, and are not always easy to get rid of. According to WebMD, yeast infections (also called candida) typically have a "bright, beefy red appearance," and often occur after taking antibiotics.

Shelby K. points out that "yeast thrives on dark moist areas," and that much like a vaginal yeast infection, you have to continue to treat diaper rashes caused by yeast even after the symptoms go away.

If you think your baby may have a yeast infection, several moms who have been through it recommend a trip to the pediatrician to get an accurate diagnosis of yeast infection and a topical treatment such as the prescription cream Nystatin. There are also over-the-counter anti-fungal treatments discussed in the Circle of Moms communities, such as clotrimazole (found in Lotrimin and other athlete's foot creams). Anne M. uses clotrimazole for her son's infections: My doc recommended it mixed with a zinc oxide or petroleum jelly diaper cream 2-3 times a day. We're in the middle of that regimen now, and it seems to be doing the job."

A member named Alexandria has used Nystatin to effectively treat the skin irritation caused by a yeast infection on her baby's bottom, also points out that you may you have to go beyond treating the symptoms to prevent a repeat infection: "I find that most people are adverse to the idea of applying such a product, and let's face it, that's only clearing up the symptoms of an underlying overgrowth of yeast — the rash will most likely reoccur if you don't treat the cause."

Alexandria has found that cutting out artificial sweeteners and sugar, while adding plain yogurt or probiotics to her baby's diet for a couple weeks helps clear up candida from the inside out. Char agrees, adding that probiotics like Acidophilus can be found at a store like Nature's Path, and that you can ask them the appropriate dosage for your child. She's also had success using yogurt topically as well as feeding it to baby: " Use it like you would a cream," she explains.

Finally, Jerri H. points out that a yeast infection is easily spread from mom to baby, "even with good hand washing," and suggests using a vaginal yeast infection treatment on yourself even if you're not experiencing any symptoms: "I started using medicine on me just in case, and also constantly washed my hands, and it cleared up with my son."

3. Allergies

Babies can be allergic to almost anything that comes into contact with their delicate, diaper-area skin. It could be laundry detergent, soaps, wipes, lotion, or even the diapers themselves. Ashley B. was able to tell that her son was allergic to a particular brand of diapers because "his skin was red everywhere the diaper contacted his skin as opposed to the normal diaper rash."

If you are having trouble with a persistent rash, consider any recent brand changes you might have made in the products that touch your baby. If diapers seem to be the culprit, moms advise going straight to a diaper made for sensitive skin, such as Huggies Pure & Natural, or various organic brands. Angie N. went through this with her son and settled on Seventh Generation: "We tried everything from the cheap brands to the expensive ones and finally someone suggested Seventh Generation Organic Diapers. I rolled my eyes at it at first, but tried them and have used them for the past year or so. My local grocery store sells them but they are in the 'organic' aisle by the pharmacy. They really aren't anymore expensive than Pampers or Huggies. I love them."

Katherine M. is a big proponent of cloth diapers, which contain no chemicals or irritants: "If you're willing to put in a little extra work, almost no babies have reactions with cloth diapers." 

4. Skin Conditions

Sometimes diaper rash appears in more than just the diaper area, and sometimes it is caused by skin conditions such as seborrhea or eczema. It's best to have your pediatrician or dermatologist confirm these types of conditions before attempting to treat them yourself. 

About 20 percent of babies have eczema, which looks like "red, dry, itchy patches" and can occur anywhere on the body. Michelle S. found that eczema can run in the family: "I have eczema and my son does too, but his breakouts are usually caused by a dairy allergy."

Seborrhea is another skin condition that is fairly common in infants. WebMD describes it as an "oily, yellow-colored rash that may also be seen . . . on the face, head, and neck." Seborrhea can also cause cradle cap.

Micah S. successfully manages her 11-week-old son's seborrhea with basic good hygiene: "We wash . . . a few times a day with warm water and put hypoallergenic lotion on at night to help with any scaling." Another member, Desarie H., finds that her baby's seborrhea "gets going" when she's too hot or when her clothing irritates her skin, but that it goes away with the application of hydrocortisone 0.5 every other day. And she shares her doctor's reassuring words, that most babies eventually grow out of these types of skin conditions.

The preceding information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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