Diaper Dermatitis (Diaper Rash)

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Diaper rash happens when urine and bowel movements irritate your baby’s skin. The skin becomes sore and hurts when the diaper is wet or soiled. There are several things you can do to heal diaper rash.

What to Do

washing baby with soap and water

Do the following several times a day:

  • Remove your baby's diaper.
  • Clean your baby's bottom and all skin folds well with mild soap and water.  Rinse the skin well and pat dry (Picture 1).
  • Turn your baby on his or her stomach or back, depending on the location of the rash, and put a folded diaper underneath.
  • Let your baby play with the diaper off. The air helps dry and heal the rash (Picture 2).
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  • You may use an over-the-counter ointment such as Desitin® or Balmex® on baby's bottom. Don’t use baby powder.
  • If the rash does not improve in 3 days, call your baby’s doctor.

Special Hints

baby playing with no diaper
  • Change the diaper as soon as your baby wets or has a bowel movement. You may want to change the diaper once during the night.
  • Gently wash and dry your baby's bottom every time you change the diaper.
  • It is helpful to lay your baby on a towel or diaper with his bottom exposed to air.
  • Plastic pants over cloth diapers may make diaper rash worse.  Try not to use these while your baby has a rash.
  • Disposable diapers may be used – change baby more frequently than you normally do.
  • If the bowel movements are loose or runny, cut down on the fruit juice you give.
  • Don’t use diaper wipes because they may irritate the skin.

Diaper Dermatitis (Diaper Rash) (PDF)

HH-I-28 10/75, Revised 7/10 Copyright 1975-2010, Nationwide Children’s Hospital