Tips to Avoid Diaper Rash

Most babies will get a diaper rash at some time. After all, their bottoms are in frequent contact with moisture and bacteria.

Rashes are much easier to prevent than to cure. Follow these tips for keeping diaper rash at bay and treating it when it happens.

Preventing Diaper Rash

Changing the diaper immediately when it’s soiled and thoroughly cleaning your baby are the best things you can do. Diaper rash occurs equally with cloth and disposable diapers. Some children will get a rash from certain brands of disposable diapers or from sensitivity to some soaps used to clean cloth diapers. If you use cloth diapers, you can add bleach to the wash. Be sure to rinse the diaper thoroughly.

Caring for Diaper Rash

Most rashes can be treated by taking the following steps:

  • Change diapers frequently. It’s important to keep the area dry and clean. Check your baby’s diaper often, every hour if he or she has a rash, and change them as needed. Check at least once during the night.

  • Clean gently. Frequent and vigorous washing with soap can strip your baby's skin of its natural protective barrier. Wash your baby’s diaper area gently but thoroughly, including inside folds of skin. Do not use diaper wipes if your child has a rash, as they can burn and increase the irritation. You can sit your baby in a basin or tub of lukewarm water for several minutes with each diaper change. This helps cleanse and may also be comforting. Do not use any soap unless there is very sticky stool, then a very mild soap is okay; wash gently and rinse well.

  • Leave the diaper off for a while. Let your baby’s skin air dry, or pat baby dry with a very soft cloth or paper towel. Leave the skin open to the air as much as possible. Fasten diapers loosely and do not use airtight rubber diaper covers. If you use disposable diapers, it can help to punch holes in them to let air in.

  • Protect your baby’s skin. It is best to apply a thick layer of protective ointment or cream containing petroleum jelly or zinc oxide, even on sore, reddened skin. It does not have to be removed completely as rubbing will damage the skin more. Be very careful with powders; be sure the baby does not breathe them in. Do not use talcum powder because of the risk of pneumonia.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Jovino, DO

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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