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Diaper Rash: Brief Version

What is diaper rash?

Diaper rash is any rash on the skin area covered by a diaper.

Almost every child gets diaper rashes. The mixture of bacteria from stools and urine irritates the skin. Diarrhea causes rashes in most children, too. If rashes do not get better, your child may get a yeast infection. You will know your baby has a yeast infection when the rash looks bright red and raw, covers a large area, and has red dots all around it.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Change diapers often. Keep the area dry and clean. Stools cause most of the skin damage.
  • Let your baby's bottom get more air. Leave your baby's bottom exposed to the air as much as possible each day. When the diaper is on, fasten it loosely so that air can get between the diaper and the skin.
  • Rinse the skin with warm water. Don't use soap.
  • Use creams and ointments. Most babies don't need any diaper cream unless the skin is dry and cracked or your child has diarrhea. Your doctor may want you to use an ointment on your baby.
  • Use bleach on cloth diapers. If you use cloth diapers and wash them yourself, use bleach to clean them. During the regular cycle, use any detergent. Then run a second cycle with warm water and 1 cup of bleach.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • The rash looks infected (pimples, blisters, boils, sores).
  • Your child starts acting very sick.

Call your child's doctor within 24 hours if:

  • The rash isn't much better in 3 days.
  • The diaper rash looks bright red or raw.
  • You have other questions or concerns.
Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-11-23
Last reviewed: 2012-05-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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