How to Get Rid of Diaper Rash

Soothing Your Baby's Red Bottom

Dealing with diaper rash is part of the parenting gig. Most babies get the potentially painful redness on their bums sometime before they're potty trained. Spotting the rash early and knowing what to do about it can cut down on the tears and make things smooth as a baby's bottom quickly.

What Is Diaper Rash?

Baby crawling in diaper

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Diaper rash is a bright red rash caused by inflammation of the skin on your baby's bottom. It might start small, but the rash can cover all skin under the diaper, including your little one's bottom, genitals and upper thighs.

Another sign of diaper rash is a change in your baby's mood. Does she seem uncomfortable or cranky? Does she cry when you change her diaper? The irritation you notice under her diaper paired with her fussiness during diaper changes likely means you're dealing with diaper rash.

What Causes Diaper Rash?

The cause of diaper rash is often irritation, but the rash can also come from infections, medications or diet changes. Babies between 9 and 12 months tend to have a higher chance of getting diaper rashes. If your little one has extra-sensitive skin, the risk of diaper rash increases. Your little one might also be more susceptible to diaper rash while suffering from diarrhea.

Common diaper rash causes include:

  • Irritation from dirty diapers that aren't changed right away
  • Diaper rubbing or chafing
  • Reaction to wipes, diapers, detergent or other products that touch the area
  • Antibiotics
  • Changes in stools when your baby eats new foods or switches to solids
  • Bacterial infection
  • Yeast infection

Ways to Treat It

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You open your baby's diaper to find that telltale red rash on his bottom. What do you do? Start by increasing the frequency of diaper changes. Leaving a wet or dirty diaper on your little one irritates the rash even more and can make it worse.

Airing out his bottom to dry out the rash also helps it heal faster. Let your little one live like a nudist for 10 minutes or so several times per day. Put a waterproof mat or towel underneath him in case he relieves himself while you're airing out his bottom.

Use these additional tips to clear up the rash quickly:

  • Skip the wipes when cleaning your baby's bottom. Use a soft cloth dipped in warm water instead to eliminate extra irritation that can come from wipes.
  • Pat instead of rubbing when cleaning and drying your little one's rear. 
  • Clean and dry the entire area before you put on a fresh diaper.
  • Apply a thin layer of over-the-counter diaper rash ointment with every diaper change.
  • Bathe your baby in warm water daily to keep the area clean. 
  • Change back to your old brand of diapers, detergent or other products if you think a recent change is to blame.

Preventing Diaper Rash

Once you deal with diaper rash, you don't want to face it again. A few changes to your routine can help prevent diaper rashes in the future.

Try these tips:

  • Change diapers often. Remind daycare providers to change your little one frequently.
  • Switch to unscented wipes to prevent irritation. You can also use soft cloths moistened with warm water on a regular basis.
  • Clean your child's bottom well at every diaper change. 
  • Let the bottom dry before putting on a new diaper.
  • Use diaper ointment all the time as a preventative measure if your little one is prone to diaper rashes.
  • If you use cloth diapers, add vinegar to the rinse cycle to remove irritants.
  • Leave diapers a little loose. If you overtighten them, you cut off the airflow and increase the risk of chafing.

When to See a Doctor

Some diaper rashes seem to get worse instead of better no matter what you do. If you don't see improvement in two to three days with home treatment, call your pediatrician. You should also call your doctor if you notice a fever, sluggishness, spreading of the rash to other areas, increasing severity or diarrhea lasting more than 48 hours. It's also a good idea to check with your doctor if you think the rash is allergy-related.

If the rash is caused by a bacterial or yeast infection, you might need prescription treatment options. The doctor can prescribe an antifungal cream if the rash is caused by a yeast infection or antibiotics for a bacterial diaper rash. Bumps filled with yellow fluid or crusty areas can indicate a bacterial infection. Yeast infections often include white scales on a red, swollen rash, redness in the skin folds and reddish pimples outside the diaper area.